When False Gods Ring Hollow

Sadly, but predictably, in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, many on the Left have resorted yet again to over-the-top rhetoric about gun control, white supremacy, and racism—screaming and pointing the finger at everyone but themselves. There is a real problem with that kind of rhetoric. It means we can’t have honest conversations about what’s taking place and, what’s worse, it’s an indication that many don’t want to have those conversations.

Democrats, especially the candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination, want to score political points by laying the blame for these atrocities entirely at the feet of Donald Trump. They forget Sandy Hook and Fort Hood. They forget Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) nearly bleeding out on a baseball diamond in Northern Virginia, the victim of a deranged Bernie Sanders supporter. Add to this a mainstream media so biased and so agenda-driven that they don’t do honest reporting and instead wave the bloody shirt for ratings and virtue signaling.

Democrats and the mainstream media in effect have decided the only subject worth discussing in the face of these horrors is the banning and confiscation of guns. Only this can stop these shootings and anyone who disagrees with them must be a white supremacist because support for President Trump or support for securing the border which, in their minds, is synonymous with white nationalism born and bred in hate. These are irrational and incoherent views driven not by a real desire to find solutions, but to browbeat and compel those who disagree with them to capitulate.

Of course, that’s not going to happen.

No rational person thinks the 100 million or so Americans who own the 300 million to 400 million legal guns in America are magically just going to hand them over or allow them to be confiscated. This flies in the face of Second Amendment rights, but also the basic premise for that amendment: it’s not about a well regulated militia, but the ability for armed resistance in the defense of natural rights against oppressive threats both foreign and domestic.

But even if for some strange reason Americans acquiesced to Australian-style gun laws in this country, it would do nothing to address the estimated 100 million illegal guns in the United States.

As for racism or white supremacy, the Left uses identity politics as a cudgel against people who disagree with them. But it is hardly racist or white supremacy to believe in borders and national sovereignty.

If there is a point where the rhetoric cools and rational minds on both sides of the aisle actually want to discuss solutions that would apply in the real world, there are a variety of topics to discuss, including taking a strong look at mental health laws.

We need a much deeper conversation about why these shootings are taking place—the kind of conversation that doesn’t lend itself easily to clichés and superficial cable talk show banter. This conversation will be a much harder one to have because it is not a simple political fix. It would require people to ask themselves hard questions about what they believe and about what is taking place in our society and culture; things that have been taking place for quite some time.

We’ve raised generations in what amounts to a culture steeped in nihilism. They’ve been taught they are the products of chance without eternal meaning, that there is no higher power, no immortal soul, that this world is all there is.

But this flies in the face of who we are as human beings. We are all spiritual creatures whether we choose to accept that or not. We are all, in fact, religious people, people of faith. Some will of course reject that, but the fact is every last person has a belief set, a faith set of what he or she actually believes. Call it a set of presuppositions and biases through which we view the world around us and decide what is right and wrong and how we are to live our lives.

What happens when someone comes to think that his belief set is really just a false construct? When he or she “realizes” that a life is based on really nothing more than a finite set of beliefs that have been constructed to assuage and sooth but are really nothing more than an attempt to deny reality?

The spiritual being cannot be fulfilled by the temporal yet people reject the idea of a God who created us and instead try to fill this spiritual void with all sorts of finite things; false gods if you will, whether they be money or power or satisfying base physical desires.

But what happens when those are found meaningless? What happens when the false gods are tested and found to ring hollow? What happens when someone believes that he or she is truly, desperately alone in this vast universe?

Emptiness. Hopelessness. Isolation. Rage.

By unmooring ourselves from Imago Dei, that we are created in the image of God and that He gave us immortal souls and there is a life to come, we have resigned ourselves to nihilism. But this isn’t simply me advocating on behalf of my Judeo-Christian beliefs. It’s about something much broader; for most of the history of western civilization most people believed in this way regarding the higher law and human dignity out of which came our societal norms. But as the number of people who believe it has diminished, we’ve brought chaos into society.

So why on earth should be surprised at what is taking place? We’re breeding hopelessness and rage and we wonder why we see it manifested in extreme acts of violence. Add to that the increasing ostracizing of young men from society, especially young white men. Unmoored from eternal meaning, degraded and ostracized, filled with hopelessness and rage, the question should not be why. It’s apparent.

The question should be how many more young men will come to these conclusions—and what happens then? We sowed the wind many years ago and now we’re reaping the whirlwind. So while there are issues that should be addressed in the short term—like strengthening our mental health care system—policy tinkering is not going to fix it. We would do well as a society to demand a serious and thorough examination of who we are and what we actually believe and what is the end result of this belief system.

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Photo Credit: Megan Jelinger/AFP/Getty Images

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