Tragedy in Texas: Responding to the Response

For many, this article is too late. Within a couple of days of the tragedy that struck a Texas church, our society had already moved on and stories about what took place were already replaced with the next story about President Trump’s Tweets, a revelatory feud between Donna Brazile, Hilary Clinton, and the DNC, and the drama that is Hollywood, from Kevin Spacey’s lack of an upcoming paycheck after missing out on a movie role because of the stories surrounding him to the sixth person voted off of survivor this week. Society’s fascination with the mundane and meaningless trumps the concern for the significant stories capable of determining futures. However, a few days time does not diminish the severity of what we saw take place on Sunday; in fact, judging from this weeks’ Country Music Awards, solemnity in remembrance, even one month’s time does not diminish the weight of such extreme events.
Therefore, it is still relevant to consider the shooting at a small Texas Church. Upon the commentary of the events in Texas, several concerns emerged. The first is the preoccupation with the phrase ‘thoughts and prayer’s that emerged (something I wrote about yesterday and you can read here). The second was the antagonism, hatred, and revulsion that emerged.
Perhaps the response seemed so extreme because it was so unexpected. After all, our country has faced some extremely horrific events in the last few months, from shootings, terrorism, and weather-related disasters. One would expect that these would be times not to propagate hatred, but to promote continuity. Unfortunately, the response that came out of what took place in Texas ranged from attacks on individuals and organizations (NRA, Republicans, the Church). The comments made by the general populace included attacks on religion, attacks on politics, and attacks on race. One person shared that those who pray are cowards (in a profanity-laced rant) while another suggested that those with a particular skin tone were getting what they deserved. Such comments are not helpful.
Not only are these unhelpful, but they serve to be helpful, which is counter-productive. The response results in the following:
  • Dismisses Grief: The quick reaction allows little time to consider the seriousness of the events being faced. As such, there is no time to grieve about what has taken place.
  • Dismisses Compassion: Furthermore, the inability to ponder what people are facing takes away from the ability to be compassionate.
  • Dismisses Tolerance: Finally, while proclaiming the need for tolerance, such commentary disseminates the opposite and creates intolerance (and we could perhaps argue that it demonstrates that ‘tolerance’ as defined by our society is not really feasible).
The inability for these to occur has the propensity create a desensitized culture.
As Christians, this is a point in which our love for God and love for others should be magnified. First, a love for God indicates a desire to trust God in all circumstances, including the most difficult and incomprehensible. Thus, we have an opportunity to model a genuine faith in God, which constitutes obedience to Him not because of what we don’t know about him, but because of what we do know. Through multiple millennia, the Lord has proven himself faithful from the time he dealt with Adam and Even in Genesis through the current generation until his dealings with those at the return of Christ in Revelation. Furthermore, our love for God compels a continuing love for people. Through the circumstances that have taken place in the last few months, we have a unique opportunity, one that permits us to demonstrate God’s love in the most extreme of situations. We do so by responding in action and words that are characterized by truth, logic, and respect.
The culture is going to respond in a similar matter no matter what. There will always be those whose first response is one of foul-mouth hatred and bitterness towards others. Today it seems more popular only because they are done so in a more public way through social media. However, the culture’s response does not determine our response. The culture’s lack of compassion should not necessitate our lack of compassion. If anything, witnessing the highly passionate critique from others as the first line of response should instill into us the constant need for an infusion of Christlikeness into our society. Therefore, it is imperative that we maintain a testimony that models the significance of that difference.

Photo “A Plumpish Proportion” courtesy of user U.S. Army and Flickr.