What Causes So Much Violence?
What causes so much violence? Why are we continuously seeing waves of violence which are eroding the shores of civility? Road rage, mass shootings and other senseless acts are alarming. The recent Memphis, Tennessee revelation of alleged fatal police brutality is another occurrence of an all-too-common problem in our stormy society. How can we stem the tide of this billowing storm? The apostles James, Paul and Peter provide insight to wrath’s origins and describe behaviors which can calm these storms.
James, “the just,” wrote that injustices come from the desires that battle within us – lust (James 4:1, 2). Lustful people promote prejudices and incite inequalities to get what they want. Lust drives people to extreme measures, including the willingness to harm others, to have things – tangible and intangible, as they want them. Lustful thinking is often the motivator for the quarrelling, fighting and murdering that erode our society. We can change for the better by praying to have what we need rather than harming others to get what we want (James 4:3).
Paul, “the prisoner of the Lord,” noted that “bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander” are our captors when we fail to love one another (Ephesians 4:17-32). We must actively propagate the power of love and not passively tolerate the potency of hate. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” We will be emancipated from the fettering chains of hate when we are motivated by the freeing power of love. .
Peter, “the small stone,” attributed our incivility to the deadly boulders of “deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind,” (I Peter 2:1-2). We must replace these rocks with the building blocks of civility – truth, integrity, love and kindness of every kind. We must become “living stones, built up into a spiritual house” (I Peter 2:5). We will break the boulders of incivility when we build the living stones of spirituality.
May we each stem the tide of violence by living justly rather than lustfully, by behaving lovingly instead of bitterly and by being as living stones rather than deadly boulders. May God bless the Schrader Lane Church of Christ.