Vegas, Evil, Culture, & Free Will

Chester Wade Image

There are many debates to watch or partake in via television, Facebook, and over coffee tables. Gun laws, security measures, mental health, motive…it seems the Vegas killer was not oppressed, not mentally ill, not violent in his home or workplace. Still, he packed 23 guns, some explosives — who knows the damage and horrid possibilities had he not killed himself before detonating the explosives? I have some questions there…things aren’t adding up…

All we have is the hard evidence that this was planned.

We talk about Jer. 29:11. God has good plans for us, should we call out to Him and seek Him and those plans.

But there are people that do not. They wave down the invitation, the promise from God. They find a different way that glorifies whatever they have in mind to homage.

So here is the debate…its not over guns, or oppression, or mental illness, but evil.

What do we believe about free will? What do we believe about evil?

Some people take the Bible very literally, and believe that angels and spirits, good and bad are present through out our day, subtly showing us paths to take for glory or for destruction. How far we walk down what path determines our footprints in the world.

Some people believe you can choose the evil will so often that you open yourself up to direct demonic possession and lose that sense of godly image-bearing compassion we are created with.

Some people believe that the Devil and demons are symbols for the darker nature of man. A nature that needs finding and pruning by the Holy Spirit or a humanistic morality in order to live a holy or moral life.

It is important to search scripture, history, tradition, and experience to answer those questions, so we are on guard for evil attacks, whether they are from an outside force that preys on our weakness, or an inside nature that grows on what we feed it.

Or both.

We are to blame for our openness to the good or to the bad. There are many areas in our culture that are accepting of bad behavior because of sad circumstances or for entertainment. We make choices to glorify and accept cultural norms.

There are people, despite poverty, oppression, mental illness, and sad life experiences, who use their lives for good.

We are responsible. That is the brick wall. As a culture, we need to make people responsible. This does not mean we cannot be compassionate to factors that would raise a person’s risk of violence, but still hold them responsible. We need to learn from the wisdom of people who rise above what life included for them that could have cut their spirits down and bent them toward a life that lacks compassion.

I will be researching and learning from those life examples. I will be teaching their stories to my children. My wish is that public schools would share the stories of those strong, good- willed people as well. I wish we would watch and hear their influence in our daily barrage of media, if the entertainment industries were willing to take that task.

Since we are responsible as a culture for breeding violence or peace, what can we change?

We must name it, and change.

(originally published 10/3/17)

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