There’s A Deeper Problem Than Kitchen Knives

Alex-HribalI’m wondering if someone is going to start a campaign to control kitchen knives. I know it sounds absurd, but it was kitchen knives that were used by alleged stabbing suspect, Alex Hribal, when he want on his stabbing spree through Franklin Regional High School nearly a week ago. Since kitchen knives were to blame for the injuries, shouldn’t they be controlled.

I’m in no way making light of these attacks. It’s tragic that this even happened, but I’m wondering when we are going to stop treating symptoms and start looking for the deeper causes to the endless inundation of senseless violent acts that are running rampant in our country. What’s at the heart of actions like this? What’s causing these kinds of things to happen more and more? Wouldn’t it seem that the more we experience them the more we would crack down and the less frequent they would become? But that’s not the case.

I grew up in southwestern Connecticut, not too far from Newtown. The events of December 14, 2012 still send chills down my spine when my family and I are in the area to visit our relatives. The 15th anniversary of the Columbine shootings is only 5 days away. I could name so many more senseless acts of violence that have occurred in which children have been the victims. But I wonder, in all the time that has expired between when these events began feeling like they were regular occurrences, what have we learned? It would seem that if we had learned enough, we would begin to see results.

Just as gun control hasn’t seemed to successfully combat the use of illegal guns in crimes, I don’t think that controlling kitchen knives will stop the violence either. There’s a deeper issue here, a heart issue. We can control and legislate things all that we want but if the issue goes deeper than the surface, how will those controls and legislation really change the heart of a person? If I have a deep need and desire to do something, will a few rules, laws, or legislation really prevent me from accomplishing what I want?

It’s a heart issue. Within the church, I’ve always marveled at the fact that we want people to behave well and we often think that the best way to accomplish this is by doling out a list of do’s and don’t’s. But that’s what I have unaffectionately called “sin management.” I can get someone to stop doing something by punishing them or guilting them, and, while it may stop the actions for a while, it never addresses the deeper issue, it never deals with the heart. Sin management just controls behavior for a season, but eventually, that behavior seems to rear its ugly head again, no matter how hard we try to control it.

If we can work on what’s going on in the hearts of those who are committing these crimes, I think we might be on our way to figuring out how to combat these things. We’ve created campaigns against guns, campaigns against bullying, campaigns against so many other things that we think are the causes of seemingly quiet and innocent kids committing violent acts, but we keep seeing more and more. We’ve got to dig deeper.

As a parent with children in public school, a solution is something that I long for. I want nothing more than to feel safe about sending my children off to school. All of the tragedies of the past few decades are that much scarier because they happen in Anytown, U.S.A. They aren’t urban crimes and they aren’t endemic to specific locations, they literally could happen anywhere. I don’t know about you, but that’s a frightening thought.

My heart goes out to the parents and families of the kids who were injured in the stabbings at Franklin. My hope and prayer is that their own horror and outrage over this latest act will result in questions and searches that go deeper to the heart of this issue. I hope that we can move beyond controlling weapons that are used to commit crimes and move to the heart issues that are driving people to use those weapons to commit senseless acts of violence. Something’s got to give, we’ve got to find a way to stop this.

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