My Sister, a former public school teacher (and overall just a gosh darn good person), had a response to last weeks school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas that really sums up how so many of us feel. After seeing a friend post about the shooting on Facebook she simply replied, “oh come on.” Her response gave voice to the sad reality we are all now living in. When we hear of a school shooting we no longer feel shock, fear, anger, or even dread. Instead, we start to feel annoyed.

It’s sad but so powerfully true that school shootings have ceased being tragedies in our collective conscious. We start to wonder if people can just be decent enough for a few months so that we don’t have to feel awful every time we open a newspaper, turn on social media, or watch TV. Very rarely, if we are being completely honest with ourselves, do we personally feel any sense of the tragic reality that friends, family, and community members must be feeling at a time like this. Like normal people we try to be empathetic and say a prayer for mercy and peace to be on those impacted by the tragedy.

Sometimes, however, an occurrence within the greater overall tragedy will lead us to experience something more. For me this occurred in the Parkland, Florida shooting after hearing the fear and shock it created in my children. With Santa Fe, unfortunately, I was moved to pray for the victims and the community but didn’t feel anything beyond traditional empathy for those involved in the massacre.

This changed after hearing the response of Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Maybe its just simple “Northern Liberal” stereotypes of Texas and Texans but after hearing the Lieutenant Governor, whom I assume is a Christian or at least claims to be (Again, this is part of my northern liberal bias) talk about the tragedy I found myself exceedingly angry. It’s worth reading at length his comments on what happened.

 

       GOV. DAN PATRICK: We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies and, particularly, violent video games, which now outsell movies and music. Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, may have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of video, violent games.

 

This is standard “Conservative thinking” and nothing is inherently evil or wrong with these statements. In fact i agree and think the increasing violence of American society is quit disturbing. However, it’s the thinking,  behind the statement that brought my blood to a boil. Mr. Patrick speaks as if he is not someone in a position of authority who can impact the situation. This is a complete “passing of the buck” when it comes to moral leadership.

For a moment lets compare the statements of Mr. Patrick with his record in office. I mean its fair to say that since he holds the second most powerful position in the State of Texas that he has some control over policies that lead to the outcomes he decries as being potential causes of Santa Fe’s violence:

“Students are desensitized to Violence”-Mr. Patrick helped push school funding per child to the lowest levels in decades. Texas now spends the second least amount per student in the United States. The low spending levels are blamed on teacher turnover, cuts to after school programs, counseling, etc. All things that will help kids do things OTHER THAN SIT AROUND AND PLAY VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES.

“Devaluing life and the Break up of Families– For an elected official so worried about the “break up of families” and the “devaluing of life” one would wonder why Lt. Governor Patrick would have spear headed efforts to cut Medicaid funding. Medicaid provides care to poor, indigent, disabled, older individuals. Medicaid, as explained by a report released from the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, shows that if Medicaid continues, “to be cut nationally, 22 million deaths will occur as a result of insufficient care.” What better way to help stop the so-called Devaluing of life than to gut a program that’s actually responsible for saving life?

I could go on and on (anyone interested do a simple Google search of Lt. Dan Patrick legislative agenda and you will find plenty of more examples) but I think you get the picture. Its not Mr. Patrick’s politics, per se, that in the midst of the tragedy got me so angry. I think what got me so upset, after I came to learn that indeed Mr. Patrick is a self identifying Christian after all, was a video he made for his reelection campaign titled “Stand for Christ” (https://www.danpatrick.org/standforchrist/) In the video Dan highlights his faith in Jesus and adherence to the scriptures as signs for why he should receive Christian votes. This use of Jesus and the scriptures makes his statements after the Santa Fe shooting that much more blood boiling to me.

In scripture (James 2:15) we read the apostle ask us a simple question. He asks “What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, go in peace; stay warm and well fed, but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?” James is basically asking us to “put our money where our mouth is.” If someone is needy, facing a health crises, or experiencing physical danger, well wishes and sympathetic comments won’t help him. Similarly, all the “small government” and “family values” policies are not going to protect our children from gun violence. Jesus is demanding his followers to follow up their faith in God with real concrete action.

I try to be as non-judgmental as possible when it comes to another Christian’s faith. Its getting harder and harder to do that in light of recent events. It pains me to see another Christian, like the Lieutenant Governor, professing Christ but neglecting opportunities that can help usher in God’s grace on this world.

Mr. Patrick is publicly invoking the name of Jesus. He is telling us that we should consider him to be a “man of God.” This is all wonderful but as any “man of God” who has read Mathew 7:23 will know, Jesus is not keen on people that claim to have faith in him but who outwardly, and inwardly, are ravenous wolves. In Mathew 7: 23 Jesus says “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Jesus is declaring here that in the end there will be people whom “outwardly appeared to be the most religious, the most moral, the most “Christian”, but who in reality are morally depraved.

I pray this is not the case for the Lieutenant Governor. I believe that Christianity is the expression of a hope, which passes all understanding. Tonight, after thanking God for protecting my children, family, and loved ones, I will pray for the Lieutenant Governor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Our Leaders Have Eyes but Fail to See

  1. Thank you for adding a much needed blog, or voice, about the “Link” between Christianity and social justice. (Did you notice the capital “L” in “Link”? You know I mean Jesus.) 🙂 Keep pressing forward. I’ll be looking for your posts.

    About this post… Indeed, we are rapidly becoming more and more desensitized. My pastor didn’t even mention the Santa Fe school mass killing in his message last Sunday. Too far away? Not enough deaths? The Parkland school massacre was closer to home, and the pastor did briefly talk about that tragedy, and he had ended, “I don’t know what we can do about it.” Really? I wondered. I went to the official United Methodist Church website and found a long statement that encouraged churches to be actively involved in opposing gun violence, including this intervention: “For United Methodist congregations to advocate at the local and national level for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence.”

    Willful ignorance is as big a problem as desensitization.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading JoAnne. I believe that there are many more Christians of conscious out there. We need to ask Christ for bravery and speak up. Your words of encouragement are such a blessing. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. It means so very much to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting thoughts, David. I don’t know if you realized it or not, but your own reaction to the Santa Fe shooting supports what Mr. Patrick said. Our society continues to “enjoy” violence in our various forms of entertainment, then stands around with no solution when people enact that violence in real life. I’ve lived long enough to see it in other horrific events we have grown to accept. Take gang violence, for example. Once upon a time gang murders made the nightly news and were cause for much hand-wringing. Now? Hardly a mention that largely minority young men are killing each other. There are other examples of violence that, when repeated often enough, simply becomes “boring” so we want to talk about something else.

    The other part of you post that I found interesting is the connection between what Mr. Patrick said and the position of his administration (though it’s probably more accurate to characterize it as the governors administration) on various things that could impact the society in ways that would undermine the trends Mr. Patrick identified.

    Was he passing the buck by identifying a truly puzzling disconnect between our preoccupation with violence in entertainment and the increase in it? I don’t think so. I think our society had better wake up to the chaos we are creating by our loose handling of truth.

    Anyway, this was certainly a thought-provoking article.

    Becky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Becky. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to respond. That truly means a lot.

      So i think with someone in the position of Lieutenant Governor Patrick what we have to remember is that in the Texas Legislature the Lieutenant serves as the “president of the Senate”. This is the same as in the U.S. Senate, however, that position has a much more centralizing role. Its not unlike what we have in New York State. In New York the Governor is the most powerful, which doesn’t come as a suprise, while the second most powerful office holder is the speaker of the State Assembly. The speaker is given the role of representing the governor to the lower chamber. In Texas, the Liuetenant Governor essential serves the same role. Its a fairly interesting position for an elected official to have. It might sound like more of a “ceremonial position”, which in New York it mostly is. But in Texas it really packs some legislative weight.

      I think Mr. Patrick is correct that our society has become desensitized to violence. I think it has also become desensitized to poverty, mental health, etc. I think when we aggregate all social problems its natural for a citizen to feel helpless. My biggest concern is that Mr. Patrick is not just a citizen, he is the Lieutenant Governor (Presiding officer of the Senate) and arguably the second most influential member of the Texas GOP. His concerns can lead to real action.

      Anyway, thank you so much for reading and for commenting. Its a true pleasure to have such well thought out comments.

      Like

  3. Thank you for a like, a follow, and a chuckle. I am your polar opposite. Since you are non-judgemental, you have no idea that I am a. Right Wing Idealog, who is somewhat morally depraved because I hate the poor, the ill, girtls because I don’t want them to join my boy’s boy clubs, men who use women’s dressing rooms, women and their helpers who kill their pre-birth babies, etc. I’m leaving a follow because I love the logic that leads Born Again Christians to such far extremes. By the way I am very little like the stereotypical CHrisrian I assumed you have concluded that I am. My current heart tug is to be like Jesus when he looked on the masses and “saw their need” and be able to supply a bit of that need. My faith is far to weak to believe I can do much in that way. I am not one who believes in selecting a government style who takes it away from one of my brothers to feed another even though Jesus was powerfully able to pray one man’s willingness.offering to help many. I can’t prove It was offered willingly but I just do not believe Jesus took it at spear point or smooth talked him out of it. Oh, my, it’s getting near midnight and I had broken hip repair today. Good night, New Friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time read and comment. The body of Christ may not always agree on earthly initiatives but as long as we hold on to our faith in the Salvation and grace of our Savior we can always work together for good. Its an honor to have your thoughts!!

      Like

  4. How refreshing, David. I would ask him why in the world teachers are leaving the classroom!

    Thank you for visiting and following Spirituality Without Borders. I appreciate your presence there.

    Like

  5. Jesus predicted a time were life was perilous. He also said to sell ones cloak and buy sword. This means we will be surrounded by lies and violence and will need to protect ourselves and children. Those with criminal histories should be banned from weapons. And righteous should be trained and educated in self defense incl weapons. Israel does this and violence is controlled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much for reading and taking the time to respond Marianne. Its an honor. I agree that the times are perilous. I’m thankful that Christ love can overcome the personal fear i have every time i see my kids leave the house for school. Its a very sad state of affairs. As far as Israel is concerned the violence people face on all sides is truly saddening. The fairly Conservative Israeli paper Haaretz has found that increasingly the country is prone to violent flourishes. Its a worthwhile read if you have a few spare minutes (https://www.haaretz.com/1.5060119) I think violence, like we see in these school shootings and in Israel and the greater Occupied Territories, shows that only Christ can keep us safe. Again, thank you so so much for commenting. Feedback is so very much appreciated.

      Like

  6. I totally agree David. Words can be spoken so easily and have such an empty ring. What’s truly difficult and most important IMHO is living as an example each and every day while performing deeds that make a positive difference in the lives of those most in need. Actions are the ‘louder’ part of the old saying that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ Thanks for raising your voice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much Henry. It means the world to me that you took the time to read and comment. It hasn’t been easy. At times i feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness. But words of encouragement like yours let me know that i’m on the right track. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

      Like

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