Search This Blog

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are We Responsible for the Sins of Others?

Yesterday, another crazy person attacked people coming out of government offices. He shot a couple of police officers before being shot. The news media is looking for a pattern in these attacks against the government. (the man flying a plane into the IRS building in Austin, TX  et al) People are looking for a way to see these things coming. They are seeking someone to blame. 

Our world has changed drastically in the past several years. We have seen that terrorism, whether domestic or foreign, gets instant media attention. Those who act out of their anger know that their names will soon be splashed all over the televisions and internet. Their fifteen minutes of fame can be easily reached without having to attain any honor. 

Often these crazies are given special attention as their actions are scrutinized. Their ideals are given value in that they are discussed. They know that, while they may not live to see the discussions, their ideals are considered carefully. It is a very fast way to get their message to the world.

For example, I have been writing this blog consistently for almost a year. (I will have written it every day for a year later this month. I wrote some blogs before but not that consistently.) I have less than 20,000 hits since I started counting. I would have over a million hits overnight if I took some crazy action like these violent people have. My "message" would get out more rapidly. If I considered myself a martyr, I might think doing something insane would be worth it. I instantly become a household name and each of my blogs are analyzed to reveal why I did what I did.

How about this? Why don't we quit advertising the ideals of crazy people? Why don't we simply say, "An unnamed man began shooting people as they made their ways home after work," and leave the story at that without any further information? Eliminate the motivation for why these people do what they do so they will stop doing them. Make them have to work hard to get their messages out. I believe most of this will stop.

I also believe that the internet has given crazy people an opportunity to band together in a way they never did before. The discussions on the internet take a life of their own. One person adds innuendo while another uses hyperbole. Soon, the story is one of the most malevolent evils whose face can be seen in whoever is being attacked. Today, most people don't believe that something is true because of the character of those whom have said it is true. They believe it is true because there are so many others who are saying it is true. Truth is what "everyone" else is saying is true. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to rebut all that is being said on the internet. I both applaud and regret this conclusion. I am glad for the free speech the internet allows us to have. I can say practically anything I like without reprisal. I am afraid of what our country would become if we lost our freedom of speech. However, I also hate the fact that lies which lead people to angry actions are so available for everyone. You can find whatever you want to believe on the internet. You can join a group which believes it and debunk the real truth within that group. Eventually, you can see yourself as a savior by taking drastic action. 

Yet, I do not want to take the ultimate point of view which says that someone else made me do what I do. I don't want to blame the high school students who were killed at Columbine for the actions of two students who killed so many of them. I don't want to honor those who killed so many in Oklahoma by saying they acted nobly when killing innocent children and adults. Ultimately, the blame rests on those who take this action. They may have been influenced by others but there were millions who didn't take their despicable actions even when being influenced by the same information and temptations. These people who terrorize and kill are responsible for what they have done. 

Each of these people will stand before their Maker one day to answer for their actions. I don't believe He will say,"Well, of course you took this action. What else could you do? Others made you do it." 

I don't think that gets others off the hook, either. I do believe that each one who supports the violent actions of others will also have to answer for their actions. They may never have killed anyone but their messages of violence urged others to do so. They, too, will stand before God to answer for their actions.

Each of us needs to know that we are responsible for our actions each day. Others may have influenced our actions for better or worse but the responsibility still lies with the person in the mirror.

Romans 14:12 (NIV)
12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

No comments: