How do we prevent future soul-searing tragedies such as the Parkland killings? More than that, how do we rescue the soul of America as we strive to save our children from the evils they encounter? How do we lead our children - and ourselves - to virtue and goodness amid the corrosive nihilism which is everywhere ascendant in our nation?
How do we repair the ongoing destruction of our moral heritage which, until recent years, has been our cultural safeguard?
What is happening to America at its foundations?
Round And Round We Go …..
An avalanche of predictable solutions to the problem of armed child murderers rumbles forth from a variety of agencies and agents. Gun control legislation, metal detectors, armed guards and Glock-packing teachers. Closer monitoring of gun sales and a souped-up mental health approach. Oh, yes, let’s demonize NRA gun-nuts and take away their car rental perks.
Talking heads come up with a cavalcade of “solutions” to the escalating problem of youth-gone-mad -- as if this gun problem were the real problem our culture faces; as if the unimaginable evil of child-killers amongst us lends itself to a quick-fix.
Grisly events such as Parkland inflict national, as well as personal, wounds. Such events are a repetitive smack-in-the-face to America; a frantic, stunning revelation that something profound, something deeply fundamental, is desperately missing in our culture, something that gun laws will never heal.
Parkland As Symptom
In desperation, we may adjudge these murdering youth as mentally ill; this is, without doubt, true. But we must not so simply dismiss the issue. We must never, ever, lose sight of the reality that objective standards of right and wrong are at the center of human nature.
These murderous deeds may be rooted in mental illness but these actions are also profoundly evil. Moral evil exists. God, our Creator, judges each person’s deepest motivations and degrees of guilt, but society must firmly uphold objective standards. Certain behaviors are morally intolerable, offensive to human nature precisely because they defy the laws of God – laws and limits which human nature simply must respect, as Parkland attests.
Nikolas Cruz holds the urn containing the ashes of mother Lynda Cruz
The Folly Of Self-Deification
In our righteous readiness to remedy social ills, we must always remember that the moral choice for good over evil is our greatest human challenge. We err beyond measure when we believe that we can defy God and set arbitrarily limits for the moral universe into which we are born. Our current national practice of selective morality is testament to both our arrogance and our blindness to the God-given limits of human choice.
The gravest moral evil of our time – deliberate killing innocent human beings, especially children, all children – has become a national crisis; Parkland’s horror is part of that crisis. But is it not obvious that this crisis demands unqualified protection for the lives of all defenseless children?
Let us not deceive ourselves: repetitive events such as Parkland are not our nation’s core problem. All the legislation, all the armed guards and metal detectors, all stentorian analyses and harrumphing screeds still do not address our culture’s moral poverty which lies beneath the psychological conditions deforming our child killers. These young murderers stand as the dreadful spawn of America’s moral blindness and cultural insanity. Whatever their motives, their murderous children attest to the presence of evil amongst us.
Our Cultural Malaise
In the last six decades, America’s major institutions have pursued godless individualism and furthered the eradication of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral heritage. We and our children now pay a wretched price for our astonishingly immature embrace of Leftism’s nihilistic, ridiculous, often barbaric, doctrines.
The past is anathema to zealous Leftists, who insist there is no moral cost, no accountability, no cultural damage to anything we choose. We may live any way we wish, they say, without moral restraints or traditional limits. Guilt is passé. There is no greater cause than the self. We answer to no one, not to God, not to Nature nor biology nor reality.
After decades of self-deification, the inevitable outcomes (including children who kill) offer cumulative evidence that we have opened the door to vice and violence, to distortions of fact and abuses of language, to rejection of Nature and to the creation of countless social ills.
After decades of aggressively promoting self-centeredness, it is extremely difficult to raise children as moral agents. After decades of militant Leftism, our country is now awash in the strangling detritus of moral rootlessness.
And nowhere is America’s cultural malaise more glaring than in the arena of fatherless families.
The Pain of Fatherless Children
Enemies of Judeo-Christian tradition debate with callous imprudence the indefensible notion that masculine fathers are irrelevant to the formation of a child’s moral awareness and psychological health. History and common sense are further insulted by the flippant irrationality of those who deny the age-old truth that the man-woman family is the natural foundation of a morally stable society.
Unhinged Leftists have accomplished the eradication of every child’s safest haven, the natural family. We zealously deprive children of the natural balance of a mother and a father (i.e., of a woman married to a man).
Regis Nicoll points out that in the last fifty years the number of fatherless homes has tripled; a third of our children are raised without a father’s influence. Nicoll notes that this does not take into account fathers who are emotionally immature or morally absent.
Furthermore, cumulative data about children from fatherless families reveals the following deeply disturbing facts. Fatherless children are:
- 20 times more likely to end up in prison
- 5 times more likely to commit suicide
- 14 times more likely to commit rape
- 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
- 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
- 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
Our Culture’s Failing Facades
Given this data, one could reasonably infer that the lives of our children are no longer sacred to our culture. Yet, given this evidence, we still maintain the Leftist’s stubborn dedication to cultural suicide and to the eradication of our own citizens, young and old.
With cavalier legality, we now re-define -- and belittle -- traditional family values, including the moral virtues of self-restraint and respect for authority. Indeed, parental authority – the loving insistence of a father-and-mother on the child’s right behavior – often seems in full retreat.
Constitutional freedom of religion has been gravely distorted into freedom from religious values. Freedom of speech is increasingly assaulted. We have removed prayer from our schools and banished from children’s minds all traces of moral formation -- all traces of right and wrong -- as necessary social values.
We have erased the necessity of public virtue in favor of tabloid yammering about collusion and impeachment, while football coaches dare not pray with their teams without fear of retaliation.
Our culture winks at the tsunami of pornography which infects the minds and souls even of pre-teens. We tolerate a climate of soul-withering self-absorption based on the corrosive idea that “All the kids do it, so it’s OK …” In reality, we witness the slow, dreadful abnegation of parenthood and the sickening sexualization of childhood.
The Morally deprived Child
So, we sputter at events such as Parkland, ignoring the fact that much of America is no longer serious about raising children who believe that doing harm to one’s neighbor is utterly unthinkable, unlawful, intolerable -- and immoral.
Our culture pursues the Leftist’s form of perverse liberality. We battle over “civil rights” with utmost incivility. We demand non-judgmentalism as if our behavior has no consequences. We honor brutality in games and sports as if such programmed violence represented admirable masculinity. Our nation’s leaders indulge in name-calling, hypocrisy and ideological conflict … and call it politics.
We celebrate and legalize the multi-gendered denial of Nature’s limits, applauding ten-year-old drag queens, anointing such a formidable assault on children’s innocence as celebrity fodder. And we refuse to admit that our insults to biological reality and Nature’s laws do not compound the moral confusion of our children.
We morph into a quick-fix culture of diminished accountability, of easy opiates and free condoms and state-sponsored marijuana … and wonder where our children find inspiration for their dystopian behaviors.
Worst of all, we teach our young children that human life has no intrinsic value. When pro-choice advocates speak, we destroy the youngest, utterly vulnerable children and have the audacity to call it a “civil right.”
Thus do we perpetuate decades of casual aborting millions of innocent children. With sickening regularity, we celebrate the annihilation of the unborn as a national norm, protected by law, promoted by government, applauded by celebrities, supported even by some clergy.
What message does a disturbed, morally isolated child receive from such an “adult” culture, from the grown-ups upon whose example he trustingly relies?
America Is A Morally Wounded Culture
In the midst of such moral chaos, Parkland occurs --- and we are startled that a child-murderer steps forth and slaughters his peers. And we are yet again reminded that nothing – nothing – is sacred any more, including the lives of child-victims and the killer’s own sad, barren soul.
How can we … how dare we … pretend shock at our own dismaying moral dereliction, at our “adult” values which so often treat human life as a burden.
It is within these precincts of hypocrisy and the easy denigration of life’s innate dignity that we now raise our children. Is it any wonder that some children inevitably attack the “adult” world into which they are raised; a world without moral clarity or the corrective example of a serious person possessed of virtue and wisdom.
For these lost children, America’s culture becomes a place of intolerable irrationality and endless amorality; a culture of vanished personal accountability which no longer considers the consequences of anything; a culture bereft of moral exemplars; a culture rent asunder by its own fitful, feckless commitment to …. to what?
And these morally deprived children wonder: who cares?
Where Do We Turn?
Schools and psychological professionals may address the specific needs of boys as they grow up … but then what?
Police may arrest twelve-year-old children who threaten to shoot teachers and classmates … but then what?
Teachers may carry automatics tucked neatly into their trousers … but then what?
All the solutions now trumpeted rest on the expectation that another Parkland will surely happen … and, after that, yet again ….. then what?
Denial of painful reality is a universal trait in our morally daft culture; a culture hell-bent on expanding its so-called “freedoms,” no matter what. We avoid hard truth and defend ourselves against candor, but the truth is that by a young age, far too many of our children are sophisticated beyond their years.
Current statistics relating to school-age children with intelligence deficits and mental problems are staggering. Ever so many of America’s children are morally numbed and bewildered, deadened in their souls. For some, their own lives … and the lives of others … have no meaning.
Some of these children (and they are out there) are gripped by cynical fatalism. For some, as time has shown, death is an entirely acceptable, even desirable, outcome. Death is a way to show the rest of us just how darkly empty life can be without faith in a beloved adult who will guide the child’s heart; without hope that someone will show him discipline, empathy and goodness over hopelessness and futility; without some loving hand to bind his childhood wounds, show him the value of virtue and bring light to his lonely, yearning soul, a soul still unformed -- and waiting.
The Search For Moral Wholeness
If we should eventually come to our senses after one of these scalding Parkland events, we would realize that traditional Judeo-Christian morality and the virtues it proposes are the abiding means by which we can develop self-restraint and reverence. It is the moral virtues which make the act of heartlessly harming others inconceivable.
Will the Leftist’s culture of death continue to destroy what once made our democracy unique? Will we return to traditional Christian virtue and moral principles embodied in God, whom we once trusted?
The outcome is surely uncertain.
Many adults vigorously deny the value of religious faith and morality. Furthermore, the Barna Research Group tells us that atheism has doubled among young people in recent years. Political parties grow further apart, polarizing debate, shredding the essential restraints of moral traditions in favor of “freedom” at any price. Legislators push for K-12 textbooks which praise QLBTQ and transgendered personages.
Three out of four black children in America grow up without a father. And in New York City, more black children are aborted than are born.
Raising children to whom empathy, altruism and self-restraint are normal family patterns grows increasingly improbable. We certainly find such virtues in many children, to be sure, but it is most likely that another Parkland scenario will occur. When it does, the debates will again follow, the culture will again scratch its collective head – and a search for solutions will again dredge up more quick-fix formulae.
Until we acknowledge the primacy of God and His moral laws as the core of our Judeo-Christian culture, the tug-of-war which now characterizes America will go on ... and on and on …. and America’s people, children and adults, will continue to be the losers.
We shall see………………………………….
Spero News columnist Dan Boland is a psychologist and and author.