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  • Writer's pictureJosh Phillips

Uvalde Tragedy: The Question Few Are Asking

Looking past the politics and into the questions of human evil

Sadly we are all too familiar with the events that took place at Robb Elementary. New information continues to come out as testimonies of survivors find their way into news outlets and our social media feeds daily. I know I have spent some time thinking about what it might have been like for those children who were in that school that day. It turns my stomach to think of the fear and terror they must have experienced that morning. At the risk of over-stating the obvious, this event is nothing short of a tragedy.

Tragically, what has become all-too-typical recently is to politicize any event, regardless of it’s physical or emotional severity. That isn’t to say that some of these issues aren’t important or don’t need to be addressed publicly, but that the intentions are often questioned and rightly so. In the case of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary the issue of gun control is front and center of the news cycle. On one side many were outspoken about banning certain firearms or all of them all together. On the other side many were accusing the firearm-banning activists for being insensitive towards those who lost their lives and using a tragedy to push an agenda.

What factors contributed to cause a man to murder innocent little children?

While sifting through all of the new stories and thinking about public reactions to past tragedies I had one unsettling question… “What caused a human being to think it was a good idea to inflict pain and murder complete strangers?” Or if you want to frame it around this particular incident, “What factors contributed to cause a man to murder innocent little children?” Isn’t this far more critical than whether or not someone can own a certain type of weapon? Now I’m not saying that we can’t improve our policies for accessing firearms but that is a secondary issue. We can’t sidestep these questions involving human evil.

I think what makes this difficult for some is that we often want an easy answer. When that answer is not easily found, the killer is given the default label of any violent criminal as having a mental illness. Then people can stop thoughtfully investigating what led to such a heinous act because to many, a mental illness is something that is somewhat unavoidable to a person who suffers from one and there wasn’t much we could do… they were doomed.

Any wrong or evil behavior is typically developed over time, slowly, and often lacking self-awareness.

I don’t think it’s that simple. People don’t become killers overnight. Any wrong or evil behavior is typically developed over time, slowly, and often lacking self-awareness. So what was this man’s life like that would cause him to desire to violently end the lives of elementary students? What was his family life like? Who did he associate with? What mediums of entertainment did he partake in and could they possibly have had any violent or nihilistic influence on him? What influences contributed to his worldview?

It seems these types of questions are only briefly considered and then shoved aside for something that will get more clicks or views. The question of human evil must not be ignored. The existence of human evil is not something that divides a room. We see it and read about it everyday. Changing the gun laws won’t fix this. Electing a new president won’t either. Legislation and government leaders can’t solve the problem of human evil. We need someone who can save us from this. This problem is not a legislative problem or even simply a behavioral problem. This is something much deeper… it’s a spiritual problem.

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli:

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