Yesterday, in Omaha, Robert entered a mall and opened fire, killing eight people, injuring and traumatising more. He had no grouse against them, he did not even know them. He gunned them down because he was depressed and wanted to die in style.
It’s obvious that Robert’s mental, emotional and spiritual health were seriously upset.
I may be wrong, but I think Robert might have chosen a different way to deal with his depression had he known what a wonderful friend each of us has in God. I’d like to share with all of you this extract from the New Testament, which I feel is appropriate for this discussion:
Luke VII – 36-50
His host thought: “This man, were he a prophet, would know what manner of woman she is that toucheth him.”
And Jesus said unto him: “Simon, I have something to say to thee.”
“Master,” said he, “Speak.”
“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred shillings, the other fifty. As they had not wherewithal to pay, he forgave both. Which of them, therefore, will love him more?”
Simon answered and said, “He, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.”
Jesus said to him, “Thou hast judged rightly.” And turning unto the woman, he said to Simon:”Thou seest this woman? I came to thy house; thou didst not pour water upon my feet, but she hath bathed my feet with her tears, and hath wiped them with her hair. Thou gavest me no kiss, but she from the moment I entered hath not ceased to kiss my feet. Thou didst not anoint my head with oil, but she hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say to thee, her many sins are forgiven, and so she loveth much. But he who is forgiven little, loveth little.”
The message that comes through the anecdote is so full of hope; He forgives us our trespasses, regardless of the magnitude. His capacity to care for the fallen is infinite. Isn’t it easy to love one who is so understanding and compassionate? Isn’t it easy to ask Him for help when we need it, because we feel sure He will LISTEN and understand?
Robert may have been religious, or may not have been. He might have been a believer or an agnostic. I don’t know anything about Robert, but I feel that we have failed, as a society, to provide Robert and so many disturbed persons like him, a safety net that would shield them against the devils that drive them to the desperate acts that do little to justify our claim to being civilized, discerning, human.
I feel that this is the primary responsibility of Religion in society. It must provide a buffer against the turmoil inside and the troubled world outside, gently help us in our attempts at soul-searching, lead us kindly towards the path of goodness, never coercing, never threatening, never imposing or expecting anything. Without ever being didactic or dictatorial, Religion should help us choose the good over the bad, the right over the wrong, like a reflex action. When we err, the urge to make amends must spring in us, not the urge to negate our mistakes or justify them. Without fear of reprisal, we should be able to respond to the call of the inner voice to right our wrongs, to own up, to be responsible for the life we lead and have led.
Bodies of water can divide lands or connect them, depending on the way we look at it. For a person who flies across the ocean, the water divides the continents; for one who sets sail, the water connects two continents.
On my ship of Ignorance, I’m setting out on a voyage of discovery, because I see the ocean of Religion as a uniting rather than a dividing force.
I am an explorer, not an adventurer. My quest is for knowledge, not excitement. The purpose is to see if Religion – which has been uprooted from its serene, blissful contemplation on all that is wonderful, noble and kind – can be restored so that it may provide us with strengths that matter – mental, spiritual and emotional.