The Need for Order, or “Do Something” Syndrome
In light of the horrific massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, it is disappointing but not altogether surprising that the calls to just do something to stop the violence rang out before the middle of the day. I’ll address the disgusting behavior of the mass media in a later post, but wanted to focus this post on the reactions and what they might say about our overall attitudes about life and society.
Gun control activists, grieving with obvious sympathy and empathy for the victims, and of course concerned primarily about the human toil of this tragedy, took to twitter and other outlets to immediately call for stricter gun laws. Ignoring that Connecticut is hardly a modern incarnation of the wild west, they seemed to imply that if we only tightened regulations and banned guns with menacing-sounding names, then we could ensure that no more mass murders of this kind would ever occur again, so long as we all shall live.
There are many legal, constitutional, and logical arguments to be made against further restrictions on gun ownership, and Jeff Goldstein makes just about all of them here. To me the strongest arguments against the gun control crowd are the practical ones. An obviously troubled young man murders his mother, then walks to her school and guns down children and the thing we’re discussing afterwards are guns? Aside from the fact that even worse crimes have been perpetrated without a single firearm being deployed, we’re missing the big picture when we’re debating the mechanism for carrying out a massacre and not the underlying cause or causes.
Another recurring theme is that this incident is further proof that there is no God. Deroy Murdock expressed this sentiment in the conservative on-line journal of opinion, National Review online.
Just in time for Christmas, a reputedly almighty God must have been on break Friday morning when Adam Lanza massacred 20 Connecticut school kids. These six- and seven-year-olds were far too young to choose wrongly between good and evil — that choice being the way that believers typically explain how a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, omnibeneficent God allows such atrocities. Atop the ongoing mayhem of Hurricane Sandy, the carnage in Syria, and the burgeoning power of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, it should be clearer than ever that no one up there watches over us Earthlings. We are on our own.
Of course we’ve all heard this before and have addressed this in myriad ways.
What hadn’t occurred to me is there is a certain commonality between those who use tragedies like this to further the fight for control and others who use it to push an atheistic agenda. Granted there is overlap between the categories, but for now we’ll treat these as separate attitudes.
Gun control advocates exemplify an affliction I will call “Do Something” Syndrome. This is the basic affliction at the heart of progressivism. In short, the premise underlying “Do Something” Syndrome is that if only we pass some kind of law, then whatever horrible thing that just happened won’t ever happen again. There’s no concern that the solution is far more dramatic than what precipitated the action. If something bad happened, then we have to do everything we can dream of to guarantee that it never happens again. Unfortunately “Do Something” Syndrome afflicts not just left-wingers. After all, the heart of George W. Bush’s “compassionate” conservatism was the idea that when someone’s hurt, it’s government’s job to move and do something.
What motivates this attitude is the need for control. Perhaps a more generous way to phrase it is that those suffering from “Do Something” Syndrome seek order. The disorder of a fallen world creates an unacceptable chaos that begs for a creative solution that will ameliorate all suffering.
I believe that those who question God’s existence in the light of tragedy also desperately crave order. It is unacceptable to them that a supposedly omnipotent Deity permits such disorder and misery. The lack of order in society prompts them to question the very nature of existence itself. And so they reject the notion that a beneficent Supreme Being could contemplate creating such a disorderly universe.
Lacking in these attitudes is both humility and perspective. We live in a fallen world. Utopian planners want to undo the creation and make this an unfallen world. Atheists do not appreciate that God’s gift of free will undermines the perfect order that they so crave. Both sides kick against the goads. Both sides will never be satisfied precisely because the sort of order they so desperately desire cannot be achieved in this vale of tears.