I never heard this said about school shootings before and it really made me think. My friend Matt Dabbs posted it on Facebook.
I have read many, many comments and posts on social media and in all the conversation there is a big missing piece. Some say it is the guns. Others say it is mental health. Still others say it is both or some other more complicated combination. But still something is missing from the conversation and here it is.
It is the objectification of people that has led to our societal decline. Once you train the mind to view people as objects (the addictive thought process – and objects like people) then it is far too easy to shoot a human being. That is all well and good in military training but not something you want ingrained in children from a young age.
A classic definition of addiction is a normal person loves people and uses objects while an addict loves objects and uses people. Our society is addicted and that means we are a culture of objectification. This is why we have something called the #metoo movement and this is why what is happening there is directly connected to these shootings.
Once you devalue mankind, stop recognizing our God-given, made in His image value, then it is far too easy to shoot a human being. Once a human is an object they are no different than a tin can or a paper target…all just objects. All shootable without a thought or consequence (in the addictive thought process).
It is a problem of value and values. It is a problem with our societal vision and focus. We have created a society prone to addiction, which by its nature requires objectification of people and the idealization of objects. When you make that transition, expect people to dehumanize others…it is all they know to do.
We are reaping what we have sown. The only way to get it back is to hurt badly enough to want a solution so much that we are willing to stop being so selfish in order to get it done. Parents have to get back to parenting, rather than letting video games, media, etc parent your kids. That takes parents being less selfish to do that. Churches need to focus on outreach and discipleship. Changing hearts is real prevention but we are too busy focusing on worship wars and infighting to get this done. That is selfish. We are a selfish society. We are an addicted society. I don’t believe we have the will to do what it will take to fix it.
Washington won’t fix it. More laws also are not an automatic fix. Do you know why? Because that is still thinking someone else, somewhere else has the authority to fix it for us. No. The work has to be done here and here is wherever you live. It is going to take a cultural shift for this to even come close to being addressed. This is going to take a local, community, family and individual effort to fix. This is going to take a change in our homes to fix. This is going to take a change in our hearts to fix. If we can let go of our addictive culture and the objectification that goes along with it, we will be one step closer to a fix.
(If you’re interested, you can read more from Matt at MattDabbs.com)
After reading Matt’s thoughts about the problems associated with loving objects, and using people, and objectification, three examples of people who loved well come to mind.
1) Billy Graham
His recent death has reverberated around the world. He is known for his love for Jesus and his love for people. He attracted huge crowds when he shared the gospel, and I think he attracted crowds the way he did was because they could tell he loved people so much he would do anything to tell them about their need for Jesus.
People who knew him personally speak of his humility. He shed compliments like an umbrella sheds water. He was genuinely interested in what others had to say. He once bailed Martin Luther King out of jail. He was friends with almost every U.S. president during his adult life, including Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan. He was real with people.
Billy Graham once said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
Billy Graham loved well.
2) Aaron Feis
Aaron Feis was an assistant football coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where the recent shooting occurred. He was a big guy. And he put his big frame between the shooter and some kids to shield them from the hail of bullets. He died as a result, but even as he was dying he was directing kids to avenues of escape. He lay down his life for his friends who he loved.
One student, Chad Lyons, spoke of how Aaron supported him while Chad was going through treatments for leukemia. “He guided me through them. He would send me prayers. He would send me Bible scripts and just stuff to cheer up my day. Funny memes. He was just an amazing person.”
Aaron loved well.
3) Jesus Christ
Jesus is at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from objectification. Jesus lay down his life for his friends. He was the model for Billy Graham and for Aaron Feis.
Jesus is the model for what Matt calls us to do when he wrote, “The work has to be done here and here is wherever you live. It is going to take a cultural shift for this to even come close to being addressed. This is going to take a local, community, family and individual effort to fix. This is going to take a change in our homes to fix. This is going to take a change in our hearts to fix.”
Jesus is the model for the solution to school shootings and the other problems caused by objectification.
Jesus is the model for you and for me.
Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, The Preacher and the Presidents, Center Street, 2008