It was twenty-two years ago today that the fire in Elk, Texas (nine miles northeast of Waco) at the Branch Davidian Compound took the lives of 76 people after a 51-day stand-off with federal authorities. Two years later in 1995, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City occurred. Today marks the 20th anniversary of that event.
Those of us who are old to remember these events, as well as all of the other violent acts that have taken place since then, could easily grow weary and disillusioned from the many social ills attacking our society. There are times when we may be tempted to throw our hands up in despair and ask, "What is the point of even trying?" The children from the daycare center in the federal building in Oklahoma City who survived the attack have demonstrated the courage and resilience from which we can all take a lesson. All of the survivors were under five years of age at the time of the attack. They have some serious health issues remaining due to the injuries sustained at the time, but their outlook on life and the future is truly uplifting.
It is important for each of us to cultivate love and respect for one another in our little corner of the world. As individuals, we may not be able to control events in the Middle East and stop the slaughter of Christians. However, have we let the leadership of our government know our concerns? Have we pushed those in authority to do something? What have we done to free the girls taken hostage in Nigeria over a year ago? Has anything beyond creating a hashtag been done to free these girls?
Violence is nothing new. It has been with us a long time. Even in Sacred Scripture we see the presence of violence between Cain and Abel from the earliest days. Our modern world has simply accelerated the level of violence with more sophisticated ways of accomplishing it. Flying an airplane into a skyscraper was not an option throughout most of history. Building a bomb with a mixture of ingredients and utilizing a truck to blow up a federal building is a relatively recent concoction as well.
What do we take away from these days when we mark milestone anniversaries of horrendous events? It will probably be different for each of us depending upon our own life experiences, religious upbringing, and political leanings. It is my hope and prayer that we would each take away a desire to build up our culture in a way that preserves and promotes the sanctity of each human life. Bombings, school shootings, a theater shooting, a military base attack, the killing of Christians by ISIS, the kidnapping of Nigerian girls, human trafficking, child abuse, elder abuse, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and millions of abortions all demonstrate a complete disregard for the sacred dignity and value of each human life.
What do we need to do? I believe the Sacred Scriptures provide the guidance. A good place to begin is with prayer and fasting. Our lives must be rooted in prayer. Furthermore, in reparation for our sins, we need to embark upon the
practice of fasting and seek the forgiveness and mercy of God. We have become lax in our awareness of sin. If we don't recognize sin in our lives we then become lax in seeking the forgiveness and mercy of God. It is time for serious repentance.
Finally, are we willing to put our faith into action? Do we get involved in matters that impact the preservation of life? The U.S. Supreme Court sent us down a slippery slope in 1973 when the Roe versus Wade decision was handed down. If we as a society are unwilling to protect the most vulnerable among us, why do we act surprised when multiple shootings happen nightly all across our nation in the major metropolitan cities? Life is cheap. Killing 56 million babies for a profit demonstrates that life is cheap while killing is apparently expensive. Many people refuse to see a connection between abortion and the rest of the violence in our society. In my mind it is one of the key factors contributing to a culture of violence.
It is my hope that we will never see a repeat of Oklahoma City, Waco, the Twin Towers, or any of the other horrendous shootings and attacks. I realize that my hope will likely be shattered in the not too distant future. We are living in a violent world. Where is the hope? It lies within each of us. Together we can make a difference. We can build a culture of life!