When something horrible happens, a clamor arises that "we" should do something to prevent something like it from ever happening again. And so it is with the unspeakable events in Newtown, Conn., where a disturbed individual killed 27 people including 20 young children and then himself.
The horror has been compounded by the decision by too many people to attempt making political points at a time like this. A great many have argued that “we” need new laws restricting non-police access to the kind of weapon used in this crime; a great many others have argued that “we” need new laws to allow schools and teachers to carry weapons to defend themselves.
This is what people have come to mean by “we should do something”: By “we,” they mean the government. By “something,” they mean new laws.
I would like to make the perhaps controversial suggestion that now – with emotions running high – is not the time to be passing new laws. The government has more than enough power, thank you, and “we” have more than enough laws to prevent the law-abiding citizen from committing an atrocity.
Besides, we don’t need new laws. And notice I took the quotations marks off, because now I’m talking about what we can do, as opposed to asking the government to do it for us.
What we need to do is pay attention to some old laws. I mean laws like “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The person whose birth we celebrate at this time of year proclaimed that the most important law of all, and yet we tend to disobey that law on a daily basis.
I mean laws like “Treat other people the way you would like to be treated.” This so-called Golden Rule exists in just about every world religion, I’m told, and yet each day we do unpleasant and even unspeakable things to others that would hurt badly if someone did them to us. Certainly, none of us wishes violence to be done to ourselves or our families, so a decision not to commit aggression against others would be a good first step.
Evil exists among us; it reared its ugly head again Friday in Connecticut. I’m not so naive as to believe that if we simply loved one another, evil would go away.
But we each carry the power to love and to hate within us, the power to reason and the power of violence. I dare say a new law or regulation passed by government will not defeat evil, but an old law observed by each of us could – if we make the decision to interact with love.