Details of the latest shooting rampage and tragedy in Tucson, Arizona are coming in now and we are learning more about what happened in this latest incident and even why it could have happened. 6 have been killed and 13 others injured to varying degrees. Blame continues to be a problem exacerbating the issue and given that this shooting impacted a Federal Congresswoman, a wave of fear, blame and concern is sweeping throughout the Government. Compassion is also at work, so there is hope that there can be healing and learning from this tragedy. One danger that I see in all of the aftermath of trying to understand it all, is for people to slip into an idea that Safety is somehow a RIGHT that we have. This is the focus of what I will write about here.
Early on in my own personal tragedy, stemming from the worst U.S. Massacre in history at Virginia Tech on 04-16-07, I realized that Safety often becomes the preeminent idea that rules the day and leads to many actions that even come to violate the laws that are set up to provide Safety. One of the first responses, true with this Tucson Tragedy as well, is that the shooter or perpetrator of violence has a mental issue. Typically, people say the shooter was mentally unstable or imbalanced somehow and therefore needs to be detained for some mental evaluation by professionals. This is insufficient reasoning and even quite dangerous, as it presupposes that the mental health professionals have the answers and can even ensure Safety. Even if someone is deemed professionally to “be no threat to self or others” at a given time, does that mean that this will always be true? Would being put on medication somehow guarantee this (that being the primary defense mental health professionals use)? Additionally, defaulting to the mental health argument is dangerous because these workers and/or the community or even national leaders become the God-like authority, as they then determine what constitutes mental imbalance or balance. Objectivity and freedom are then easily thrown out or at best marginalized in the name of Safety and that alleged RIGHT we have for it.
Friend, Safety is not a human or even a Constitutional RIGHT. Government and law enforcement officers are supposed to help keep the peace, but there is no realistic way to have a free society and guarantee peace and Safety for everyone at all times. I just heard John Green, the father of the youngest victim in this Tucson shooting—9 year old Christina Green—say that having a free society means that we will be subject to these incidents and that he prefers this to the alternative. That is a very mature attitude to have, especially given his great personal loss, and an attitude that should temper what officials do in the aftermath of these tragedies. I also wrote about this very thing early on in a 05-13-08 Blog article: “An American Idol…SAFETY” (also included in Appendix 5 of my book). Safety is an ideal, but not a RIGHT, nor can it ever be if men are to be free.
While this Tucson Tragedy did not occur on a school campus, the fact that the shooter was recently a student at a local community college and had run-ins with people and even police there, again brings this issue home for my own tragedy-torn community and all others who consider the education of our children and citizens. How do we help these troubled souls? How do we prevent people from getting to such a place as Jared Lee Loughner? How can we do more to ensure Safety? That requires more discussion than I have room for here, but I have written extensively about this from my own experience with tragedy and spiritual understanding.
You could allow your desire to be safe to keep you indoors and isolated from others. You could worry and even become cynical, thinking that things are only going to get worse and worse. If you understand where Safety actually comes from and what the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will do, you can be at personal peace and Safety, no matter what circumstances are raging around you! Friend, Safety is of the LORD (e.g. Proverbs 21:31)! Safety is not our RIGHT, but our responsibility to help make possible through Love and Truth. I personally know that our mental health professionals, police, judicial, and educational institutions can do a better job here, too!