We are all to blame for violence

We are all to blame for violence
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Today, we live in an ever-expanding society that is becoming increasingly open. We can connect with someone on another continent in seconds, thanks to technology, while just decades ago the simple idea of a transcontinental cable was fantasy.  

At the same time, we have the ability to cloak our identities and carry out threats — and actual violence — with some degree of anonymity. The recent mail bombs directed at prominent American politicians, media and a movie star illustrate the intersection of these two forces in motion.


In a single sequence, a figure (or figures) whom we do not know and cannot readily identify, and who wants to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, has accessed the private addresses of public individuals. In an open society, made ever smaller by the internet, those with evil intentions can take this personal information and wreak havoc. That alone is incredible — and a grim reminder of how vulnerable we are and how fragile life can be. 

As to why these incidents have occurred, many questions remain unanswered. In reality, the answers do not really matter. But I wonder, do people understand what they are unleashing when they construct pipe bombs, or when they murder the law enforcement officers who are sworn to serve and protect us?  

Neither Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Senate leaves until September without coronavirus relief deal Gloria Steinem: Selection of Kamala Harris recognizes that 'black women ... are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party' MORE nor Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS blocking private charter flights to Cuba Biden, Harris to address Democratic convention from Chase Center in Delaware Kamala Harris is now under the protection of Secret Service: report MORE was ever going to open the packages addressed to them. The same goes for Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters expresses confidence Biden will pick Black woman as VP Bill from Warren, Gillibrand and Waters would make Fed fight economic racial inequalities Waters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' MORE (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris to host virtual Hollywood campaign event co-chaired by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling Trump plans to accept Republican nomination from White House lawn US seizes four vessels loaded with Iranian fuel MORE or others to whom suspicious packages were addressed. Instead, those put at risk by the actions of a domestic terrorist (or terrorists) were the postal workers or delivery persons handling the packages, or the politicians’ staff members — the innocent young men and women who are just starting their political careers and would have opened the packages.  

The 20th century British author C.S. Lewis wrote that the Judeo-Christian demand of our lives should be that we “order our loves.” In other words, we should love things in proportion to their worth. When you place that in the context of our cosmic creator, it’s easy to see who should come first: God. Those who adhere to biblical teachings — to love our spouses, our friends and all of mankind — quickly understand what is of value and what is not.

We risk losing sight of that without a deeper, more reflective look into these pipe bomb threats. Let’s take away theology and gauge what has happened through a moral lens. When we as a society lose our sense of what is truly valuable and what is truly worthy of our affection, our time and our treasure, then we are destined to experience more of such disturbing violence.  

Much about this situation remains unclear, but I have no doubt that this perpetrator (or perpetrators) has become obsessed with the white noise that fills our airwaves and halls of our society. Caught up in our stark political divisions, we have allowed ourselves to become enthralled with justice and vengeance. As a result, some sick individuals seek to exact their own twisted form of “justice.”  

Recall Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for example, who said he felt he was doing the right thing to get across a message, and that he was influenced by his fanatical older brother. A twisted, self-interested focus led him to believe that he and his brother needed to maim and kill to achieve their selfish goal. They forever changed the lives of many innocent individuals in a pathetic attempt to avenge something Tsarnaev later acknowledged he did not fully understand.

To be clear, I’m not excusing or justifying his behavior — and certainly there is no justification for the latest incidents of attempted violence. Like many Americans, I regret that we have allowed our political discourse to be absent of love and the pursuit of what is virtuous and pure of heart.  

We no longer pursue the character and justice of which Socrates spoke in Plato’s “The Republic.” Instead, we allow our minds to be filled with a singular pursuit of hatred that can only be satisfied when harm is inflicted. We’ve done that collectively. We have allowed that collectively. And we can only end it collectively, as Americans.

It starts with seeing people as human beings, first, rather than as members of a sect or race or political party, or anything else that we use to divide ourselves from each other. We need to immerse ourselves, and our society, in the grace of God. A solid foundation can bear any weight, and America must remain founded upon the principles and moral virtues that have been outlined for us since the dawn of mankind. The fabric of our society depends on it.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is author of the book “Reawakening Virtues” and served as an adviser and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign.