“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matt. 2:16)
The slaughter of 20 precious children in Newtown led our preacher to remind us that the Christmas story had a dark side too.
We like to celebrate and commercialize the bright side. We ignore but still commercialize the dark side.
Many businesses target and profit from the dark side just as they do the bright side.
The ever-more-violent game business is booming. Sales of military style weapons hyped in video games are brisk. News and social media fixation on Newtown and related divisive issues boost advertising profits. Even the business side of politics is finding bonuses, using the issue fallout from Newtown to build war chests for looming fights.
Precious children and precious life were valueless to the Newtown shooter … and to the Aurora, Tucson, or Carson City shooters. Since 2006 the FBI recorded more than 100 mass murder shootings. That’s in addition to the growing numbers of drive-by, domestic, and armed robbery shootings.
The underpinnings of our moral fabric – the commandments “thou shalt not kill” and “love thy neighbor” and the admonition “love your enemies” – are crumbling. The law and order supports for those underpinnings are inadequate.
What to do?
Many try to avoid the growing dark side by moving to safe locations. The massacre in Newtown slams that idea. Newtown is one of those places most would flee to.
So, how do we repair our moral fabric?
English philosopher Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
He didn’t say what good men should do, but he joined Machiavelli and Calvin in saying people by nature are weak (sinful) and must have a higher authority that imposes order.
That’s difficult in a free society.
It would require local to national officials cracking down on business and activities that nurture the dark side … violent video games that stimulate aggressive proclivities, child pornography that stimulates predatory ardor, despicable behavior on the Internet, easy access to high-capacity semi-automatic weapons and illegal drugs, and proliferation of hate-based talk shows/blogs/web sites, etc.
It would require preachers, teachers, and opinion leaders to reach out and harmoniously promote peace, goodwill, and morality.
It would require all the rest of us to lend them unwavering support.
Are there enough good men and women to make such happen?
The light of Christmas survived Herod. It gives us hope. It will sustain many this holiday season.
May it illuminate many darkened hearts and minds during the coming New Year.