We are all to blame for violence

Armstrong Williams | 11/1/2018, 1:58 p.m.
Today, we live in an ever-expanding society that is becoming increasingly open.
Armstrong Williams

Today, we live in an ever-expanding society that is becoming increasingly open. We can connect with someone on another continent in seconds, thanks to technology, whereas just decades ago, the simple idea of a transcontinental cable was fantasy.

At the same time, we have the ability to cloak our identities and carry out threats—and actual violence—with some degree of anonymity. The recent mail bombs directed at prominent American politicians, media and a movie star illustrate the intersection of these two forces in motion.

In a single sequence, Cesar Sayoc, who has been arrested for mailing the bombs, allegedly accessed the private addresses of public individuals. In an open society, made ever smaller by the internet, those with evil intentions can take this personal information and wreak havoc. That alone is incredible—and a grim reminder of how vulnerable we are and how fragile life can be.

As to why these incidents have occurred, many questions remain unanswered. In reality, the answers do not really matter. But I wonder, do people understand what they are unleashing when they construct pipe bombs, or when they murder the law enforcement officers who are sworn to serve and protect us?

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama was ever going to open the packages addressed to them. The same goes for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe Biden and others to whom suspicious packages were addressed. Instead, those put at risk by the actions of Sayoc were the postal workers or delivery persons handling the packages, or the politicians’ staff members—the innocent young men and women who are just starting their political careers and would have opened the packages.

The 20th century British author C.S. Lewis wrote that the Judeo-Christian demand of our lives should be that we “order our loves.” In other words, we should love things in proportion to their worth. When you place that in the context of our cosmic creator, it’s easy to see who should come first: God. Those who adhere to biblical teachings—to love our spouses, our friends and all of mankind—quickly understand what is of value and what is not.

We risk losing sight of that without a deeper, more reflective look into these pipe bomb threats. Let’s take away theology and gauge what has happened through a moral lens. When we as a society lose our sense of what is truly valuable and what is truly worthy of our affection, our time and our treasure, then we are destined to experience more of such disturbing violence.

Much about this situation remains unclear, but I have no doubt that this perpetrator (or perpetrators) has become obsessed with the white noise that fills our airwaves and halls of our society. Caught up in our stark political divisions, we have allowed ourselves to become enthralled with justice and vengeance. As a result, some sick individuals seek to exact their own twisted form of “justice.”

Recall Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for example, who said he felt he was doing the right thing to get across a message, and that he was influenced by his fanatical older brother. A twisted, self-interested focus led him to believe that he and his brother needed to maim and kill to achieve their selfish goal. They forever changed the lives of many innocent individuals in a pathetic attempt to avenge something Tsarnaev later acknowledged he did not fully understand.