School Massacre in Florida—This Has to Stop
Another mass shooting, this time in an American high school, has left 17 dead and 15 injured. Mass violence is so common—will it ever stop?
It has happened again.
On Feb. 14, what was a normal school day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, turned into tragedy. As the day was winding down, students and teachers heard the fire alarm. Students began filing outside, but it wasn’t a drill.
A former student, allegedly 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had pulled the alarm and began gunning down students and teachers with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle as he walked the hallways and entered classrooms.
According to witnesses, the gunman wore a gas mask and used smoke grenades—possibly to conceal himself or to heighten the fear and chaos as he carried out the deadly attack. News agencies are reporting that the suspect fled the school by blending into a group of students evacuating the building. He was later captured in a nearby community.
As of this writing, 17 people are dead and 15 are injured (reportedly five in life-threatening condition). This now ranks as the second-deadliest school shooting in recent years, behind the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre (2012) that left 28 dead. It is already deadlier than the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that killed 15.
“This has to stop”
Interviews, news reports and social media posts on this tragedy presented a common reaction by people around the United States: “This has to stop.”
Of course, nobody would disagree. Mass shootings have become so commonplace in the United States that they are almost expected. It’s been just over four months since the deadliest shooting in U.S. history occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, when a gunman killed 58 people at a country music concert. And it’s been just over three months since the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting that killed 26.
Yes, this does have to stop.
No human measure has yet worked to prevent the selfish and violent nature of the human mind from doing evil to others—whether it be nations, groups of people or individuals.But the sad reality is nobody knows how to stop it. As has been the case with previous mass shootings, this is already spurring a political debate on what needs to change to prevent this from happening again. Some blame loose gun control laws for these massacres, while others say mental health and the failure to get violent individuals proper help are really to blame. There are also those who blame lax security measures for facilitating these tragedies.
All three issues contribute to these reoccurring tragedies—mass shootings like this couldn’t have been carried out without access to weaponry; perhaps the tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the suspect had been given more mental health care; and maybe tougher security would have prevented him from getting inside the building.
A biblical proverb states that “a prudent man foresees evil and hides himself” (Proverbs 22:3). This principle applies to nations just as much as it does to individuals. We should foresee evil and take whatever actions we can to prevent it from happening. So there should be a discussion on what can be done to minimize these tragedies in the future.
But the sad reality is that no human measure will completely stop evil and prevent future violent tragedies from occurring. Human history is a chronicle of thousands of years of tragedy, violence and evil. No human measure has yet worked to prevent the selfish and violent nature of the human mind from doing evil to others—whether it be nations, groups of people or individuals. The record of history validates an observation found in the book of Isaiah: “The way of peace they have not known” (Isaiah 59:8).
Isaiah 59—a message for our time
I would like to encourage our readers to read through the entirety of Isaiah 59. It contains important insight into the cause of human violence and suffering—yes, even the root cause of yesterday’s tragedy. It is a message for our time today.
When we see the abhorrent parts of human nature, it should be a wake-up call for each of us to look into our own lives and tackle the vile parts of our personal sinful nature.The chapter begins by identifying sin (the breaking of God’s law) as the root cause of all violence (Isaiah 59:1-2, 3). It shows that sin separates us from God. Human beings cause tragedy and suffering because we willingly choose sin, in its many forms, instead of God’s perfect law. Because our peoples have rejected God and His law, “their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths” (verse 7).
When we see the abhorrent parts of human nature, like we just saw in Parkland, Florida, it should be a wake-up call for each of us to look into our own lives and tackle the vile parts of our personal sinful nature. Again, the message is clear—human sin leads to violence.
Societal measures like gun control, mental health care and security are all valid ways to deal with the effect, but if we want to stop violence, we all have to attack the problem at its sinful core. Yes, each and every one of us.
As a nation, we could repent and stop sinning—but that rarely happens. The onus is really on each individual. When we see the abhorrent parts of human nature, like we just saw in Parkland, Florida, it should be a wake-up call for each of us to look into our own lives and tackle the vile parts of our personal sinful nature.
The ultimate solution
The good news is that a solution to violence is coming. The end of Isaiah 59 and Isaiah 60 discuss the ultimate solution to the issue of sin and violence—“the Redeemer will come to Zion” (Isaiah 59:20). This is a prophecy of the return of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 60:2 is the hopeful message the entire world needs to hear: “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”
Yes, we live in a world covered in the darkness of sin, suffering and violence. That darkness exists every day, but becomes even more obvious on days like yesterday. The Bible shows it will get worse.
Jesus Christ will take physical measures to prevent violence in this world. But the ultimate reason for the peace that is to come will be the spiritual change within the lives of human beings: “Also your people shall all be righteous” (verse 21).
As we often explain, spiritual problems require spiritual solutions. Only the spiritual transformation of the human mind will end human violence.
As we mourn the needless loss of life in Florida, we pray for the families and friends grieving the 17 who died yesterday. We pray for the victims who are fighting for life in the hospital. We pray for the community of Parkland, Florida. And, most important, we pray for Jesus Christ to bring His Kingdom soon.
This has to stop.