||Finding The Reason|
Everyone is looking for "The Reason" for Columbine.
The second worst school massacre in U.S. history, and it happened right in my hometown. As I prepared to fly back to Denver for the funerals, I struggled to come to grips with the enormity of what had happened. Why? How?
More than anything, I wanted to find The Reason. What exactly caused this? What single social factor could cause two suburban teenagers to snap in such a hideously tragic way? There had to be something -- one cause I could put my finger on, one reason that I could wrap my mind around to help me make sense of the utterly senseless.
Listening to the radio on the way to the airport, I heard others grapple with The Reason. The airwaves were clogged with talk show callers -- each convinced that they and they alone understood the social problem which had led to such an ugly massacre. "Parents don’t stay at home with their kids any more." "We don’t teach values in the schools." "It’s abortion." "It’s racism." "It’s TV violence." "It’s rock music."
I understood their desperation to find The Reason. For, if we find The Reason, then we can take the next step and develop The Program. We could sponsor seminars. We could print leaflets. We could pass new laws. ("Yeah, we’ll make it illegal to walk into a high school and start shooting up students! Why didn’t we think of that before?")
But, as I’ve thought and prayer over the events in Littleton, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in reality, The Reason is both more simple and more complex than we’ve acknowledged it to be.
The Reason is, quite simply, evil. The Evil One. Satan. The events at Columbine High School were a manifestation of pure, unmitigated evil at its ugliest and its most naked.
Satan hates youth. He hates innocence. He hates promise and potential for good. And so he attacks it, in every way he can. Sometimes his attacks are subtle, like the false promises of rebellion and illicit sex. But sometimes he throws subtlety out and goes for the jugular. That’s what he did on April 20th.
Of course, this isn’t to say that social factors played no role. Abortion, racism, media violence -- they have all contributed heavily to the current social climate. But remember -- they have contributed because they are evils. And each and every evil act, no matter how tiny, is an opportunity for Satan. He sees cracks and he uses them to gain control of people and of events. A culture which kills 1.3 million of its own every year? Diminished respect for life. He can put that to use. Lonely, alienated kids? He can use that, too. Violent images? Icing on the cake.
Were those two teens "possessed"? I don’t know. But they were obviously very, very troubled, and that’s fertile ground for the evil one.
That I thought as I boarded the plane is why we need God. Evil is real, and He is the only answer. I was overwhelmed at the power the Evil One has to wreak havoc on our lives.
I arrived in Colorado and went straight to the first funeral -- a double ceremony for Kelly Fleming and Daniel Mauser. It was heartbreaking. But it was also, in a way, very, very beautiful. Thousands of people jammed into the church. (I wound up sitting on a window sill.) As I watched Archbishop Chaput pray over the bodies, I realized that something very beautiful was going on. We have every reason to believe that Daniel and Kelly are perfectly safe now -- far away from the grasp of Satan and his evil threats. Daniel and Kelly were both followers of Christ. They were active in their church -- as were most of the teens killed in the massacre. Satan hates that most of all -- young people who love God and spread that love in the world. And he can rage his ugly rages and even take their lives. But, in the end, he can’t really hurt them. He just places them in perfect safety, permanently out of his usly grasp.
And I saw more at that funeral. I saw the presence of Christ. I saw the action of the Holy Spirit in the midst of pain and tragedy. I saw a community pulling together in love. I saw youth by the hundreds turning to God in love and trust. I saw renewed faith, and a renewed commitment to caring about those around them.
In the end, Satan’s rantings, no matter how ugly and violent, are utterly futile. He can kill the body, but he can’t take life -- not the life that counts, at any rate.
So now that we know The Reason, it’s time to develop The Program. What is that Program? It’s simple. We turn to Christ. We pray. We put our trust and our security in Him. And we love with His love, fighting evil in every form. In doing that, we’re sealing up the cracks and locking Satan out.
Now that’s a program I can live with.