Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
I recently watched a video clip of a TV commentator remarking about random shootings, in Tucson, as I recall. He said that the shootings presented three elements for our consideration. The first one, he said, was the fact of mental illness, and the need for better treatment of the mentally ill. He then, perhaps predictably, questioned whether gun ownership or possession should be so easy, especially for mentally disturbed people. I don’t know his third point, because I turned him off.
A day earlier I had been reading the thoughts of a far wiser man, discussing what he perceived as the difference between most modern Americans and orthodox Christians. Christians believe in man’s fallen nature--the result of Original Sin--which, if unatoned, can leave him without a moral compass, and result in all manner of wickedness. Modern man, on the other hand, believes in the inherent goodness of humanity--at least, usually, of its ruling class. If there is wicked behavior, it is because of some fault of society, some defect in the political or economic order, perhaps, which has resulted in “inappropriate” actions. Given proper regulation and control (say--that’s government, isn’t it?), man will respond to his rulers with proper behavior, to his benefit and that of his fellow men. All that is required for Utopia is the proper arrangement of society, and, thankfully, we have plenty of people willing to make those arrangements!
And, when, despite all the proper direction and regulation by a loving and wise authority, people persist in doing “inappropriate” things--like shooting one another--the only explanation can be: mental illness! And whose fault is that? Well, society’s fault, of course! Perhaps the doctors failed in their treatments. Perhaps the drugs weren’t effective. Education might have been under-funded. Goodness knows: in a proper environment, under the direction and control of a benign and prudent social order, people simply do not do bad things unless they’re crazy! (A few might suggest that the concept of “mental illness” is hogwash, but obviously, they’re mentally ill themselves!)
The Christian--or Christians, if more than one remain--can only wonder: What happened to evil, to sin? Does no one today believe that bad things are done by evil people? Well, to some degree, that belief persists. Certainly Hitler was evil! So was Stalin, if only because he went to excess. Even in those cases, however, the underlying problem may be mental illness. What do we know of the possible childhood traumas of Adolph and Joseph? Psychoanalysis and appropriate therapy should be mandatory for upper echelon rulers. And surely anyone who kills or attacks government figures must be terribly sick, because we owe so much to these people who have done so much for us, while asking so little in return--except, perhaps, a generous salary, perks, fantastic retirement benefits, public adulation, and, of course, obedience.
If these random shootings seem to be proliferating, it signals a failure of the system at some point, and research needs to be done to find a remedy. That will cost the taxpayers lots of money, and the cure, when discovered, will be expensive as well. But the good of society demands it. People who want to keep what they regard as theirs are, ipso facto, clear evidence of a societal blemish; namely, the dangerous delusion that their first responsibility is to themselves and their families. The only reason we are allowed to have money at all is that our rulers can use it to mold us into a perfect citizenry. They only take it from us for noble, humane, and uplifting social purposes, in other words. Those who think otherwise are deranged, and need to be rehabilitated at the various camps springing up around the country.
So don’t fret. Sit back, have a beer, watch some sports on TV, and let the wise and knowing among us gently guide you into the path of perfection. There are no problems that money and research cannot solve, under the benevolent guidance of our rulers. Become a troublemaker and you could end up in the mental ward. Complainers, after all, must be crazy: not recognizing Utopia when they’re living in it!