Evil and American Egotism

As the national dialogue becomes transfixed on the issue of gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, I cannot escape the thought that Americans are trying to treat the symptoms of a disease without diagnosing the cause.

Full discovery and explanation of a tragedy like this one will always exceed human abilities, and that certainly makes it easier for Americans to look only at what is wrong with our laws instead of what is wrong with us.

When confronted with mass killings, Americans need to discuss evil and the ways in which our society promotes profound immorality. A scriptural understanding of human nature is the best place to start. Moreover, the potential evil wrought by rampant egotism in America should not be ignored.

Anthony Daniels suggests as much in his contribution to NRO’s symposium on Newtown:

The perpetrators of mass killings seem to be maladjusted people with a grievance against life, sometimes crystallized by a relatively minor incident like being fired from work or rejected by a woman in a nightclub. Quite often they have been justly accused of what they have in fact done. One killer shot people in two brokerage firms (having first killed his wife and two children) after he had lost a lot of money day-trading. Presumably he thought that the opportunity to make a lot of money was actually the right to make a lot of money, a right that had just been denied him. (The right to pursue happiness has long since been replaced by the right to be happy.) …

These terrible killings are different from the serial murders of old that were usually committed for financial gain or sexual gratification. They seem often to be the expression of a tormented egotism, a protest at the refusal of the world to take the perpetrator at his own inflated estimate of his importance.

Tragedies like the one in Newtown are brought about by more than individual depravity and the availability of guns; they are the horrible indicators of a kind of sickness in society that no laws can cure.

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