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Mass Culture and Mass Shootings

Matthew 26:52 records Jesus advising his disciple to withdraw his weapon and allow Jesus’ enemies to capture him: “‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’”

In this way, Jesus taught a simple truth: that violence begets violence.

Violence has been on the minds of many people, especially in light of the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 21 people dead, 19 of whom were children.

The death tolls of the shooter’s rampage have prompted anger toward police officers who waited outside the classroom in which the shooter had barricaded themselves instead of rushing in to save the children who were (at the time) believed to still be alive. [1]

While many individuals have blamed the shootings variously on mental health and on the prevalence of firearms in America, one thing is for sure, it takes a special kind of sadism for people like this murderer to gleefully kill innocent human beings whom they had never met and will never know and to callously send texts detailing how they shot their grandma in the head. [2]

It's not just an illusion; school shootings really have increased in the United States over the last few years. [5] Despite the many pleas for violence to stop, the mass killing of children has become something of a demonic fad.

In the absence of God, human beings search for power and comfort by turning to mass social movements. This has resulted in cases of documented (and dangerous!) mass social mimicry, such as the “blackout” challenge, in which children were found to be experimenting with self-strangulation, or the “Tide pod” challenge in which people were eating literal Tide pods to imitate their peers. [6] [7]

Much like a virus, this kind of damaging social behavior spreads through contact with sources, both in the media and interpersonally, that reinforce the idea. Perhaps it is not so much that mass shootings are resulting from mental health problems as it is about the fixations on which our culture is turning its attentions.

We have turned away from God and no longer heed the teachings of Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Perhaps the best solution is for us to stop talking about mass shootings altogether. Their power and their mystique come from the “glamor” that common cultural consciousness has produced.

By way of analogy, consider the matter of “cutting,” a trend in which individuals began self-injuring that exploded over the last three decades. As one researcher wrote, “The single biggest way self-injury spread was from people knowing it was out there.” [3]

Of course, by writing about the issue, one might, ironically, be violating this recommendation. However, more than anything else, our culture must replace its fixation on violence, which does, indeed, begat violence, and instead return its attention to the mercies of God.

As Paul exhorted us in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Instead of imitating and passing on the behaviors and patterns of perverse human beings, we ought to promote the imitation of and meditation on the power of God.

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/27/us/uvalde-shooting-police-response-timeline/index.html

[2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/05/27/uvalde-texas-shooting-police-response/9964966002/

[3] https://www.salon.com/2011/08/19/tender_cut_interview/

[4] https://theconversation.com/school-shootings-are-at-a-record-high-this-year-but-they-can-be-prevented-173027

[5] https://theconversation.com/school-shootings-are-at-a-record-high-this-year-but-they-can-be-prevented-173027

[6] https://www.health.com/mind-body/blackout-challenge\

[7] https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/tide-pod-challenge/

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