Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love




Perhaps the most coveted role in any society is that of hero. The least coveted then would naturally be that of villain. I believe that our definition of heroism is a fundamental aspect in any discussion about gun violence.


We hear any number of people express the conviction that the depiction of violence in movies and video games has the effect of drawing individuals into destructive behaviors like the New Town tragedy. The young are thought to be especially susceptible to this kind of brainwashing, which involves seeing violence as a pastime or source of entertainment.


What I don't hear is any discussion of why Hollywood and others feel compelled to glorify and promote violence in the first place. If our society was not first hooked on violence, would the business world embrace it as a sure route to profit? Does unbridled commercialism instill violent tendencies or merely take advantage of those that already exist. I would suggest the latter is really the truth.


To get to my point, I'd ask that we identify those in our midst we think of as heroes and thereby promote as ones to be emulated. Soldiers and policemen probably come to mind for most, while sports figures and other celebrities might appeal to some. What is it that these heroic types share in common? Is it not aggressiveness, strength, and a ready willingness to engage in violence of some sort?


To the extent we, as a society, associate heroism with violence, then anyone wanting to act heroically and thereby validate their lives will logically do so violently. If heroes are those who operate violently against evil enemies, then all a would be hero needs is to perceive an evil person or group and act violently against them. Others may see such action as actually evil itself, but to the perpetrator it is righteous and therefore heroic. After all it mirrors the very thing society admires in its heroes.


If we really want to dig deep and consider the prevailing religious theology in our country, we encounter another promotion of violence. Christian Orthodoxy teaches a violent God and asks its followers to oppose evil doers. That opposition has never been far removed from a call to violence. A relinquishment of violence as the essence of heroism would necessitate a new theology. That is the real starting point for any effective response to the gun issue.