Several years ago, I was driving through an area the weekend after a tragic mass shooting had occurred there. I listened on the radio to the people who lived nearby as they responded to being put in a goldfish bowl for the whole country to watch. I couldn’t help but reflect along with them about how unfair the whole thing was.
Every special interest group had their spokesman on television telling us all why this tragedy had taken place. It was guns, of course. Someone noted that crime in the cities was going down while crime in rural areas was going up. He blamed the availability of guns for the problem. The poor fellow obviously has never lived in the rural south. I grew up in northern Arkansas, and I can tell you that guns are not a new arrival there. As a boy, I don’t think I knew a family—especially a rural family—that didn’t have guns and that didn’t teach their kids to hunt. We grew up playing war around the barns, pretending to shoot one another, and faking a fall out of the loft into a stack of hay below. None of us ever killed anyone. As far as I can tell, none of us even thought about it. Some other TV talking head blamed drugs. Another blamed the schools, another blamed the movies, and yet another blamed television violence.
It’s true enough that everything that happens is the world is caused by something. But the causes are often so complex that specific prediction is impossible. However, general prediction is not at all impossible. There was no way to predict that those two boys would do what they did. But you can be certain that some boys (or girls) will kill again. It may be Elmira, New York. It may be Fairfax, Virginia. It may be your hometown. I can’t predict where it will happen, but I can predict that it will happen. And so can you. What we can’t be quite so sure is why it will happen. That’s what I want to talk about.