Choices in spite of difficult circumstances

I just have to comment on the tragedy in Omaha the other day. It was a horrible thing to have a young 19-year-old man take the lives of eight others before taking his own. Any mass murder and suicide is an awful thing to hear about. It is a reminder of the Columbine killings and other tragedies where troubled young men committed horrific crimes.

But I have to ask, why do I not read anything in the news reports where someone questioned if maybe the adversary might have had something to do with what happened? Is that just not considered politically correct? We read the news reports searching for explanations. Numerous people are interviewed from the young man’s life for their viewpoints.

We want to know. What went wrong? What could have been done to help this young man before it grew too late? He was in and out of foster homes, had threatened to kill his stepmother, was a known drug user and could not hold a job. I doubt he did well in school. What is it about young men who feel like failures and misfits that causes them to take it out on society?

Was there any religious influence in his life? Wasn’t he ever exposed to the principles of faith and of forgiveness, of service to others and of working hard to get an education and provide for a future family? Are those good Christian values or good American values or just basic good human values? Don’t we all value happiness that comes from education and hard work?

Have we become so tolerant of drug use in America that we don’t see it for what it really is – the adversary’s plan to destroy young men and keep them from fulfilling their true potential in life? “Oh, it’s just a little marijuana,” you may say. It’s no worse than drinking a beer or two after work. Really? Try telling that to the families of the people this young man killed.

Now I know that not everybody who smokes marijuana is going to go out and kill a bunch of innocent people at a shopping mall. And I know that there are a lot of people who lead perfectly normal and acceptable lives who smoke marijuana or drink beer. But haven’t we had enough examples of what can happen to young men who go down this route?

We are taught that life is all about making choices and I know that is true. We all have our agency. We can choose to do what we want, to listen to whom we want, to believe what we want and to live our lives the way we want. But isn’t it clear and obvious by the way some of these young men have chosen to live their lives that the end result is not a happy one?

Can we say that it’s not his fault? He had a broken home environment or he had learning disabilities or he fell in with the wrong kind of friends. He was depressed, his girlfriend dumped him, he was in trouble with the law, he was introverted, he was troubled, he was a ‘lost puppy’, he had ADD, he did poorly in school, he had a drinking problem and the list goes on and on.

Those are just excuses and our efforts to try to understand or explain away what happened. Hey, the bottom line is that this guy listened to the voice of the adversary whispering in his ear so long that he decided to believe it and acted upon it when it told him to kill. Robert Hawkins was responsible for his own actions and he didn’t have to do what he did. He had a choice.

One of the things that Robert Hawkins wrote in his suicide note was, “I can’t take this meaningless existence anymore. I’ve been a constant disappointment and that trend would have only continued.” One of the effects of heavy marijuana use is that it saps any enjoyment of life. To those who are heavy users of the drug, it seems that life has no purpose or meaning.

What do you think? Can we explain away this terrible tragedy as the actions of someone with mental illness, charge it to the ills of society and all that he suffered or was Robert Hawkins responsible for what he did because he listened to the promptings of the adversary?