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Tragedy Trivialized

Timothy Cullen POSTED: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

( The tragic slaying of six people—a nine year old girl among them—and the wounding of nine others by an apparently deranged young man is a human tragedy of the first order, but the politicization of it by commentators across the political spectrum is a tragic indicator of a society in an advanced state of spiritual decline. The human response to such tragedy is to express one’s sympathy to the families of those slain, to pray for their souls and to maintain a decent interval of decorous mourning during the most acute period of the suffering of the families. Tragically, this level of human decency has not been observed, almost certainly increasing the suffering of those whose loved ones have been lost.

To make matters worse, the ex tempore discourse of many can only exacerbate the societal tensions glaringly revealed by such indecorous behavior, highlighting the already horrific degree of narcissism apparent in a society that looks not to the spiritual vacuum that can produce such am event but rather focuses its attention on particular political agendas that the facts indicate are tangential to the root cause: a spiritual vacuity on the part of the slayer that should send chills down the collective spine of a society in which such a horror can take place.

Photos of the bizarre, voodoo-esque “shrine” set up by the slayer in the back yard of his parents’ home clearly point to an aberrance that should be abhorrent to any society that presumes to call itself “civilized,” yet few of the most vocal commentators look to this glaringly obvious fact as an issue that each and every family must contemplate in its effort to make sense of the senseless. Instead, the “discourse” focuses on political affiliations, on the slayer’s preferred reading matter, on laws related to firearms, on law enforcement deficiencies, on nearly anything and everything but the root cause: the diabolically distorted soul of the slayer.

When life is held cheap by a society, it should come as no surprise that a directionless and alienated young man lashes out against the innocent in a senseless outburst of murderous violence. While it may well be that this young man is “mentally ill,” there is no doubt that he suffered from terminal spiritual sickness well before he fired the shots that took the lives of the innocent. What, we must ask, could drive someone to hold human life so meaningless as to take it with such impunity? What dreadful spiritual state could inspire such evil? What twisted use of “reason” could impel someone to “make a statement” by slaughtering the innocent?

These questions are to a certain extent rhetorical, because the answers lie outside the realm of the “reasonable,” outside the realm of any spiritual state save the diabolical, outside the realm of a humankind concerned with the well-being of the human community. The massacre perpetrated by this dehumanized young man—himself very much in need of prayer for his salvation—is inexplicable if the spiritual is not taken into account.

A society that does not value any and all human life is a society doomed—perhaps damned—to suffer wanton and deranged tragedies such as that which occurred in Arizona. A society that has relegated the spiritual to a place beneath the political is a society suffering the sickness unto death.

Let us pray for the afflicted and the slain, let us pray for the sanctity of life, let us pray for an end to the diabolical. Let us cease to trivialize tragedy by focusing on the political and secular woes that afflict us all and pray for an end to such dreadful tragedy and for the triumph of the good as taught to us all by Christ.

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