News and Tribune

Columns

December 18, 2012

MAY: The information we really need

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — We crave information when tragedy strikes. As the minutes turned into hours after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., we found ourselves pausing in front of the television in the hallway, pulling a news site up on the computer, or flicking to an AM station in the car. We were appalled — yet curious to soak up information in sponge-like form.

Somehow it seems that the more information we have the more we think we will find out why, the more our curiosity will be satisfied, and the more we think that it won’t happen to us. If these are the facts of the shooting, then we need to beef up security at the schools and pass stricter gun-control laws. Then we can feel safe. Then it won’t happen again.

It is the task of the media to provide information quickly and accurately. In fact, there is money to be made when it can be done first and best. But the danger with that kind of competition for news is that sometimes the information isn’t accurate. Ideas about the killer’s mother, the children who were victims, even the identity of the killer himself were like grains of sand blown about in a hurricane. CNN, Fox News, the AP and many other news outlets originally identified the shooter as Ryan Lanza rather than his brother Adam. Pete Williams of NBC News said that he regretted the mistake, but beyond that doesn’t know what else to say.

As information is gathered, there is never a shortage of individuals seeking to interpret the information. Some are speculating about the information that is molding and shaping a particular segment of the population. MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough commented that as he watched the ticker break the story of the shootings, he knew immediately that the shooter would be “a young, white, middle class male, who sat at a computer, played violent video games and had a powerful weapon.” The discussion went on to focus on how this generation has grown up with a graphic picture of how revenge can be taken along with a graphic portrayal of inconsequential violence in video games and media.

Perhaps there are two other pieces of information of a graphic nature that we should consider. This generation is growing up with a graphic absence of God in the marketplace. We are reminded at this time of year how many communities have taken down nativities, eliminated prayers in public places, and censored statements or songs. Yet in the shadow of tragedy, we almost universally turn to God — whether to blame him for allowing it to take place or to seek comfort in his arms. Isn’t it time that we allow intelligent and honest discussion about Him in the marketplace of ideas?

Without an anchor of God, this generation is growing up with a graphic assault on moral absolutes. We’re constantly told that circumstances determine right and wrong. The boundaries for decency and morality are no more anchored than the Velcro-bound shoelaces on a toddler. Such shifting of boundaries is not a new phenomenon. The Old Testament prophet Hosea warned that judgment would come upon leaders who were “moving boundary stones” (Hosea 5:10).

I cannot today change my culture or even my community. But for the sake of the next generation that I touch, I believe I will go to my backyard and make sure the boundary stones are firmly planted.

   

 

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