Camel’s Hair and Locusts: Lamentation and Bitter Weeping

As we go to press, the nation still reels from the Newtown, Connecticut incident of December 14 in which 20 children were massacred by lone gunman Adam Lanza. Adding to the abject horror of this particular incident is the fact that these young victims were aged 6 and 7 years, and were in that prime of childhood when the precious innocence of youth is in full flower, and the promise of the adulthood that lies ahead is at its full potential. In the life of a child who is just beginning to grasp and explore the possibilities inherent in that glimpse down the road to the future, this is an exciting time. And it is that time of life which brings great hope to parents and loved ones who anticipate in this child the success in life in one form or another which has eluded them, and the chance to achieve vicariously what has escaped them in reality since they, too, were at this tender stage of life. 

As we now begin to move away from this in time, as the days pass and the usual posturing and politicking that this kind of thing invariably spawns gives way to the demands for greater governmental control of our lives as a means of prevention, we would, perhaps, do well to consider the deeper and more sinister aspects of what has happened here. When we reach the point where anger gives way to a more introspective view, we can add to the list of child victims that of Adam Lanza himself, who, at the tender age of 20, committed this atrocity when but a few years removed from this more hopeful (and certainly more joyful) time in his own life; a time when his native intelligence and emerging talents revealed in him a potential as bright—or brighter—as any of his victims. In a very real way, he is the 21st child victim of this great tragedy and is, perhaps, the most tragic of them all.  

Neither the liberal call to control guns to prevent these horrific events nor the conservative demand that guns be placed in the hands of "good" people for the purpose of killing the "bad" Adam Lanzas of this world offer any real solution. These approaches merely seek to cover up the symptoms of a desperately ill society; they do not treat the disease. To treat the disease means transforming a godless and narcissistic culture into one that no longer mutates its sweet and innocent children into psychopathic killers. And the first step in achieving this is to take responsibility: to stop believing that we can blame any and all things but ourselves for these atrocities that so often confront us—that we can distance ourselves by fixing blame on someone or something else. In the case of Adam Lanza it is neither his demanding mother nor her guns, his wealthy father and his inattention, his medications nor lack thereof, nor video games, nor media violence, nor any of the other excuses we have heard bandied about according to the agenda of whoever is promoting his or her own cause, whether it be for profit or the self-gratification of standing in front of a microphone so as to lord a supposed expertise in the human condition over the rest of us. All of these things, and all of this posturing and superior behavior concerning them, are merely the symptoms of a dying civilization that reels at such events that are so horrific that it rips the mask from the true face of America and reveals the horribly scarred and disfigured countenance underneath. Until we can, as a society, look at ourselves and see the true ugliness of who we have become, then we will continue to spawn the Adam Lanzas, James Holmeses, Jared Loughners, Eric Harrises and Dylan Klebolds who plague us. Until we have the courage to look into the mirror of a deeper introspection and see these faces looking back at us, then the history of these horrors will continue to repeat itself and our despair will grow. For the words of Pogo ring true now more than ever: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

We live in a culture of death where nothing is sacred and life is cheap, and yet we wonder when this world we have created creates monsters who are merely a larger than death representation of it. Adam Lanza was born of a generation in which millions of children were murdered before they so much as drew breath. The difference between these children and those whom Adam Lanza so brutally killed was merely that the parents of those children wanted them and the parents of these children did not. The hypocrisy of modern America is such that we weep for and lament as a nation such sweet young children taken from our midst by an act of unspeakable violence, yet ignore those murdered in the womb in an equally unjust and violent way as the unalienable right of their mothers. Our hearts are rent when we hear of the dead little boy who had just learned to ride his bike, or the dead little girl who couldn't wait for Christmas. Yet because these others were taken from us before we could get to know them as the children they were destined to become, we are oblivious to this loss we have suffered even though it is every bit as great. And because this act is carried out in the inner rooms of a clinic and the task performed by a hired killer who is a physician duly licensed for the task, it is condoned as acceptable and even good when it is, in fact, no different than Adam Lanza putting a nine millimeter Glock to the head of a six year old and pulling the trigger. It is the same thing. Any mother who can, for whatever reason, tend to the life in her womb by subjecting it to death in this way is just as crazy and just as evil as we all supposed Adam Lanza to be. And she is just as guilty. Any society such as ours that condones this criminal insanity on the part of the mother without extending the protection of the law to that unborn child must also bear this guilt. And because the message that this sends to those who would act as Adam Lanza did is that, in light of this, his act is no different, then society must also bear the responsibility for him, for what he did, and for his own death. For in his mind he had done nothing that society does not condone within another context, and the act of putting a bullet into his own brain is merely his own abortion some 20 years denied.

If we are to rebuild our shattered society in any sort of meaningful way, we must start with responsible parenting. And when the potential for such responsible parenting is weak, we must overcome this idea that it is somehow a woman's right to terminate her child by going to the abortionist and writing a check. And, by all means, we must overcome and deny the strident demands among the populace, and sympathetic voices within the government, that demand that these checks should be drawn against public funds. Parenting is a societal responsibility and not merely an obligation to be fulfilled in our own households. It must extend beyond to all who are in need. And this must not be obscured by substituting government for family as former First Lady Hillary Clinton proposed in her 1996 book, It Takes a Village. The horror of abortion on demand, capital punishment, an expanding participation among the states in eugenics, and the increasing call for euthanasia for the elderly and infirm demonstrates all too clearly that entrusting the responsibility of family to government leads instead to disaster and is the cause of, not the cure for, this shattered society that produces mass murder both illegally and legally. Responsible parenting begins at home to be sure, but must extend beyond to those in need who lack the love and proper care necessary to be raised up according to Christian principles and in an environment of love that brings health and wholeness. And this will be impossible as long as it is assumed that this can be accomplished by entrusting government with the task, rather than at the truly grassroots level of reaching out and literally embracing those so deprived of love and understanding that they end up taking the lives of helpless children so as to demonstrate to all of us what we have failed to provide for them.           

A Christian Democracy must take its stand and begin here, with the basic right to life for our most vulnerable citizens guaranteed, with their liberty so secured, and with their pursuit of happiness open to the potentials of each regardless of wealth or station. And when this dream of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness breaks down into a nightmare such as that of Newtown, or any circumstance of violence, we must not answer such an abomination with violence by believing that we can simply absolve ourselves of responsibility by the extermination of the perpetrator either in anticipation of or after the act. Capital punishment is merely the opposite side of the same coin as abortion, and is, in reality, merely abortion delayed. And the same may be said of euthanasia, eugenics, or any other human endeavor in which the goal is to commit the sin of Lucifer by pushing God from His throne and installing the hubris and arrogance of human authority in His place. And as Nazi Germany, the USSR, and the ongoing horror of Communist China demonstrate, the human management of life and death invariably ends in a hell on earth in which Satan himself is able to stand back and laugh as his mortal minions destroy the noblest creation of God, which is human life itself.  

Participation in the culture of death is the iceberg that our opulent ship of state has struck on its journey into the future. We see much within the pages of this magazine that seeks to show us what a Christian Democracy looks like, but if it looks like renewable energy then the claim is being made that the problem with our ship is the fact that she burns coal. If it looks like more ethical business practices then the claim is that her shops should offer better deals. If it looks like union labor then the claim is that her crew should be better represented. While all of these things may represent noble ambitions towards a brighter future, this future can in no way be secured until the gaping slash in her hull is patched and those who founder in the frigid sea of apathy and neglect are provided life boats, rescue and safe harbor. And this breach can only be fixed when our priorities as a nation are re-centered upon liberty and justice for all, and this is demonstrated in the unshakable and immovable premise that all human life is always and forever sacred. However, if this is to be done there is no time to lose, for her bow already points grotesquely skyward, and the fires of Christ that once burned within her halls of Congress, and fired the boilers of her government, have already been extinguished. And, much as we would like to deny it, the America we once thought unsinkable is rapidly slipping, irretrievably and forever, beneath the cold, cold seas of history.

The recent incident at Newtown offers us the opportunity for a deeper reflection and a chance to lament and weep for much more than the loss of 20 innocent children, several of their teachers and administrators, a dysfunctional single mother and her lost soul of a son. In these events we witness a microcosm of the America we have become, and we see in Adam Lanza and his young victims the dashed hopes of a nation that executes its unborn youth and so exterminates its own future. Perhaps, upon this deeper reflection, those that long for a more Christian nation in which to raise their own children and see the children of their neighbors also prosper, will seize in this emotional outpouring the opportunity for a New Evangelization that begs for John's baptism of repentance in anticipation of, and preparation for, a new baptism of fire kindled in the person of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If this is so, and if this can be done, we may still enter into a bright new day in America in which we, as parents and loved ones, can anticipate in our own children, and those of our neighbors whom we love just as deeply, the success in life that we have failed to accomplish, and have the chance yet to achieve vicariously what has so far eluded us.

And may God forgive us that we have allowed this to be so.  

--Phil Ropp