Everybody has something to say about the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, where a 22-year-old man killed six people and wounded at least twice as many more at a political event on Saturday. Among those he killed are a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. Among the (critically) injured is the Congressional representative for the district where the shooting took place. Because so little is known about the shooter, and because he is not “cooperating” with police, much of the commentary is devoted to speculation about his motivation for doing the deed.
But, what can we conclude from this? Logically, nothing ‘follows’ from these observations. Andrew Klavan put it well at City Journal when speaking of the shooter, “By all appearances, his mind was ruined by madness and his soul by evil.” Yet many are saying that he was ‘motivated’ or ‘inspired’ or ‘triggered’ by one or another political figure or movement in the culture. Basically, they are indirectly blaming their own political enemies or cultural opponents for this tragedy. This is the effect of the “therapeutic” culture that is so influential in American society. According to this system of belief, nothing is anyone’s fault; a person’s behavior is always “because of” something else.
Christians accept responsibility for their own actions, and believe that others are accountable for their actions. We acknowledge that this is a fallen world and filled with temptations that would lead us into “doing things that we shouldn’t do.” (Christian shorthand: “sin”) The “therapeutics” would use government power to remove or outlaw temptations (guns, freedom of speech and movement), but Christians work to strengthen our character so that we can resist the temptations that will constantly beset us all. You can’t outlaw human nature, but you can exercise self control.
What can we do? Pray. Pray. Pray some more. For the victims and their families and for the tormented soul who pulled that trigger 30 times.