One of my colleagues recently said she didn’t want to hear any more about the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings. I can’t blame her. It’s just too painful for us to think about, let alone for those who were forced to confront the chaotic evil.
The thoughts about what to do to limit such evil, however, confronts us on every hand. A national resolve seems to be gripping us: what can we do to insure such an evil will never happen again? Politicians use this unspeakable tragedy to promote further restrictions on the sale of firearms. The National Rifle Association, with an opposing view, proposes we employ armed police officers to guard our schools. Both sides draw battle lines.
After the release of the 1975 movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” mental health policy began to change. We went from a society where we could commit mentally sick loved ones to hospitals for treatment, to its opposite. Now only when a person presents a clear and present danger to themselves or to others, can we commit, although only for “observation.” Many homeless as well as dangerous persons have gone through the “revolving door” of the hospital. This policy change is relevant because Nancy Lanza, unable any longer to control her 20-year old son, reportedly intended to have Adam committed in another community. His anger over his mother’s intentions, some believe, led him to his rampage of death–chaos. Even more recently, in the light of Adam’s violence, medical experts have begun to talk about identifying a violent (or evil) gene.
All of these efforts–from avoiding to genetic prediction–represent ways we as a society aim to never allow such evil to recur. We will do our best to limit the chaos. Whether such efforts will succeed, or whether they fail, of course, we may not know for some time. In the meantime, we live with the trauma, horror, and grief. We also live with the awareness that we are limited, and that “only his Creator can draw the sword against him [i.e., Behemoth, the chaos monster]” (Job 40:19).
After we’ve done everything humanly possible to limit the chaos, we still must rely on God.