Columbine Revisited: The Absence of Hope

By Cliff Springs

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the horror of Columbine High School, our society finds itself still asking many of the same questions that a decade ago seemed to provide no acceptable answers.  Why did this happen?  Who is to blame?  Why don’t we have more gun control laws?

 

It’s natural for people to want to point fingers then and now.  Tangible, specific causes–guns, Hollywood, video games, etc.–are easy targets because they fall within the realm of a quick fix.  Correcting the real problem is much more difficult, but it is the reality everyone must face if we are ever to bring these types of rampages to an end.

 

These young murderers weren’t dependent solely on guns to administer their carnage.  They invested days, probably weeks or more, making dozens of bombs—because they were determined to wreak their terror.  To lay the blame on the guns logically dictates we must also outlaw cars–the weapon of choice for drunk drivers–and ban sex so that people with limited sexual self-control will not spread the deadly HIV virus.  I know it’s been repeated so many times that it rings trite, but more and more gun restrictions only impede law-abiding people.  Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer and a truck.  I suspect had the Columbine murderers not been able to acquire guns, they would simply have found another way.

 

Although movies today certainly have a penchant for the gratuitous, how many millions of people see films without duplicating the celluloid savagery?  The problem lies in the individual brains which inappropriately absorb Hollywood excess.  Spicy food only causes indigestion in the wrong stomachs.  But this finger-pointing is indicative of the litigious state of our national mindset these days—everything is framed in a worst-case-scenario context, making sure that every aspect of life accommodates the least intelligent, least capable among us.  That might sound noble, but in reality, it’s oppressive and impractical.  Guns and Hollywood are not to blame.

 

The real focus of this article is not about guns, violence, Hollywood, or any of the usual suspects.  It’s actually about truth and hope.

 

Society has watered down our common values in an effort to make everybody comfortable.  We don’t want to offend.  We don’t want to come across as rigid or closed-minded.  We pretend that truth is in the eye of the beholder.  The net result is that we’ve got a growing class of people who find themselves more and more confused with how the world is supposed to operate, unsure of what values to adhere to.

 

My formula is going to sound excessively simple—and it is—but it is a thought process that is all about the very concept of truth and its guiding light.  When solving problems, when looking for answers (such as Columbine), society needs to learn that “A” leads to “Z”.  If “Z” is the problem, you aren’t going to fix it at “M” (guns, movies, video games, etc.).  It has to begin with “A”.  This is the very essence of what truth means.  Today, too many people view truth as a relative concept–if truth is relative, then truth is irrelevent.

 

There’s a reason why people don’t understand this way of thinking.  Society’s “compassionate” safety-net approach to protecting people from the consequences of their actions has robbed far too many people of the valuable lessons once taught by life’s harsh doses of reality.  “A” doesn’t lead to “B” because society thinks “B” is too harsh.  Just take a look at so many of our political leaders who experience some form of public failing, then offer a quick apology, then go about their business with little repercussion.  Why choose the high road when society is there to make excuses for you the moment you reach rock bottom?  It’s not society’s job to protect you from yourself.  Perhaps climbing the steep, rocky path back to the high road will ensure you make a wiser choice the next time around. 

 

The job of parenting used to follow this approach.  Parents set boundaries and guidelines so that children would learn the rules of truth, consequences, and responsibility—while being given enough latitude to make simple mistakes from which they could extract important life principles.  It was called “building character.”

 

Unfortunately, we’ve developed such a non-judgmental society that we have abandoned truth and absolutes.  People know that absolute truth demands absolute responsibility–but people want a safety net.  Without absolutes, everything is to be tolerated; everything is right in its own way.  I believe this to be a primary reason why abortion is still legal:  many men and women who may know deep down in their hearts that abortion is murder are hesitant to give up this pregnancy safety net.  Just in case… just in case. 

 

Truth and absolutes are the foundation of society.  The truth that “A” leads to “B” serves as both a warning but also a source of hope.  If you want “B”, then do “A”.  If “B” is bad, then avoid “A”.  By following the path of truth–”A” leads to “B”; “B” leads to “C”; “C” leads to ”D”–one can discern right from wrong; one can derive hope from the promises of tomorrow.  

 

But how can children have any understanding of right and wrong when so many parents are unwilling to define them as anything other than gray, fuzzy, relative evaluations based on a zillion mitigating factors?  As a result, too many children are left to learn life on their own.  Without parental boundaries, without absolutes, a child’s mistakes fluctuate far beyond simple lies and breaking curfew.  Children are left to completely screw things up.  By that time, the lessons learned are often of an adult magnitude.

 

How often do parents today swoop in and scoop up their child every time the slightest frown makes an appearance?  As a parent of three young children, I’m amazed when I see other parents who simply can’t enforce discipline because the very sight of their unhappy child is unbearable.  When any of my children misbehave, I view the tears and tantrums as learning tools.  I will gladly sacrifice their fleeting unhappiness if it means they learn to become well-adjusted, responsible people.

 

We hear so often from parental “experts” that positive rewards as a training mechanism are superior to negative ones (spankings, for example).  In a case-by-case basis, this is certainly a debatable point, but as a prevailing philosophy of life, it doesn’t hold up.  Rewarding your child for not touching the hot stove will never teach as thorough a lesson as the burned finger of one who didn’t obey.   This is an extreme example, but the principle is valid:  consequences matter.

 

How many of you will build a home on anything other than a rock-solid foundation?  Why build our children on anything less?  With a solid foundation, even the influx of “negative” factors (Hollywood, guns, video games, etc.) will not override the powerful truth of experience and consequences.  And consequences can be good or bad.  That again, is where hope takes hold.  “A” leads to “B”, “B” leads to “C”, etc.  If your concept of hope merely resides in the realm of what is possible, then hope is a vague, distant ideal instead of something that is real and attainable.  Hope must start with an understanding of truth.

 

Without truth, hope has no foundation.  Without hope, there is Columbine.

–CS

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One Response to “Columbine Revisited: The Absence of Hope”

  1. Hello “Brother” Cliff

    I want to comment on your Thursday news paper article: “The fantasy of the “soul mate”, and contrast it with Amy Montanz’s (same page) “Marriage counseling is not for amateurs”.

    You were off the chart with your Christian perspective of marriage! And what amazes me (which really doesn’t) is that you gave our Gods perspective without a Phd in Psychology! It is not for me to say that Amy is not a child of God, but based on my “experience” with psychotherapists, and my present “experience” with a Living God, my conclusion is that Psychology is as destructive as witchcraft is out of the heart of Africa.

    Our God not only has “all” the answers, but He furnishes us with the Power to walk in obedience to His answers. 2 Peter 1:3-4 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

    Thank you, Brother, for taking such a stand. Committment is the “key” to a successful marriage, and, a right relationship with our God.

    #59

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