Violence leads the news every night as we’re told of another shooting or attack. The talking heads ponder over the motives. Everyone asks the same question, “How can we keep this from happening again?”
Maybe there’s another question we need to ask first. Why do people hurt other people? Most people aren’t sadists. They don’t enjoy causing each other pain. So why does it happen?
Hate causes violence. If you’re worth less than me, you’re scum, and you don’t matter, then it’s easy for me to treat you with physical contempt. Hate causes us to squash people like little more than bugs.
Anger causes violence. If I feel like I’ve been mistreated, I can rationalize violence as a sort of revenge. When we lose our tempers, situations escalate out of control.
Fear causes violence. If I am scared, I tend to react strongly to defend myself against the perceived threat. Sometimes we are afraid of people who look different. Sometimes we are afraid because we are carrying guilt.
Hopelessness causes violence. If I don’t see any way out of a situation, why not be violent? If my options are to starve or steal, why not steal? When our options are limited, we’re more likely to choose bad options.
Mental illness causes violence. If I am unable to think rationally, I will act irrationally. Irrational behavior is dangerous.
What causes violence? The brokenness of humanity. Do you want to know how to stop violence? Wise laws and policies can make a dent—but the only real, lasting change comes when we are transformed into the image of Jesus.
His perfect love casts out our fear.
His peace that passes understanding diffuses our anger.
His universal love pours water on the coals of our hate.
His hope promises a future.
He grace redeems our broken minds and hearts.
If you yearn for peace in our land, and for justice to roll like the waters, and for the lion to lie down with the lamb, then the answer is not in Clinton or Trump or anybody whose name is on a ballot. The answer always has been and always will be Jesus. We can’t force other people into his arms, but we can run to him ourselves. When people see what we have, they’ll want it, too.