Mike Rowe is, in a word, the man. Sometimes funny, always clever, and ever insightful, Mike is not only sitting comfortably atop many a spirit animal totem, he’s also a go-to source for modern-day philosophy. As such, a woman named Susan Collins asked Mike for his thoughts after the Parkland Shooting. He delivered.
Like most of you, I’m overwhelmed with pity for the victims and their families, but consumed with anger for the coward who chose to murder. Rage and sorrow are hard things to reconcile, and the more such things occur, the more apparent it becomes that there is nothing new to say. So forgive me Susan, if I repeat what I said after Vegas and San Bernardino.
Evil is real. As long as humans have walked the earth, people have chosen to do evil things. This is what happened in Florida. A nineteen-year old man chose to do an evil thing. He planned it. He executed it. He succeeded.
Should we endeavor to know why? Absolutely.
Should we discuss the impact of video games, accessible firearms, single-parents, no parents, powerful medications, social media, mental illness, bullying, or anything else we think might have encouraged him to choose evil over good? Without question.
To any hardcore gun advocate out there focused solely on the “accessible firearms” bit, please don’t miss the forest for the trees. Mike is calling for a holistic approach to our culture. If we’re going to approach and examine evil, we must first analyze it as thoroughly as we can. Mike wasn’t done, either.
But we should also stop confusing the influence of such things, with the root cause. Because nothing in this man’s past can possibly explain his decision to kill seventeen people. If you believe otherwise, ask yourself why millions of other people with a similar past, don’t make similar choices.
The past does not equal the future.
The existence of evil is real. We can discuss the problems of this shooter’s life and his motive, until the sweet day he’s released from existence on Planet Earth. But sometimes evil has no footnotes to which we can point, saying “SEE! He spent too much time watching Teletubbies!”
This is the most comforting thing I can tell you, Susan. It’s also the most disconcerting. Because the facts are undeniable. People from horrible backgrounds often become the epitome of kindness. And people with every imaginable advantage, often go on to squander everything…
As for words, I can only repeat what others have said, and ask you to remember those who confronted evil with courage. People like Aaron Feis, the football coach who threw himself in front of the kids the killer was trying to murder.
Beyond that, I’m afraid I can offer nothing but my weekly attempt to prove that goodness also walks among us, just as surely as evil. In numbers far greater than our newsfeeds would lead us to believe.
Good things happen every day. But the good news doesn’t sell. Trust me, we’ve tried it. “This good thing happened today” has a much smaller audience than “this bad thing happened today.” The reason for the former is a topic for a larger discussion. But Mike is right to call out how good, courageous people answer the call in the face of evil. So while we should do what we can to combat evil, let’s not lose sight of all the good that’s already fighting it. All is not lost.