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America's abyss

Posted By Craige McMillan On 03/09/2000 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

    A future social historian is likely to decide that the most
    powerful instrument of all in bringing about the erosion of our
    civilization was none other than the public education system set up with
    such high hopes and at so great expense precisely to sustain it.


    Malcolm Muggeridge in “Jesus Rediscovered,” Doubleday, 1969

With the schoolyard killing of one six-year-old by another,
America has stepped into the abyss. It is dark, cold, senseless and
weightless as our free fall begins. Even the rising sun — warming the
land we once knew — no longer reaches us; it brightens only the rapidly
receding lip of the abyss. Now even the cries of our family and friends,
sharp and piercing as they watched us step forward into our brave new
world, no longer reach us.

Young Kayla Rolland’s day probably began the same way yours and mine
did many years ago. It ended when a classmate — upset over a fight with
her the previous day — pulled a stolen gun, pointed it at a nearby boy,
then spun around and pulled the trigger on Kayla. The bullet entered her
small neck. No one knows if she was sorry for the previous day’s spat
with her young assailant. No one knows how much it hurt, while she lay
there on the floor. Only the doctors and the undertakers know how many
vital connections between her young mind and body were severed in the
instant the bullet cut through her spinal cord. She endured the pain and
anguish alone. As Kayla’s final day came to an end, we watched too: Like
Kayla’s brave young killer, America has turned one final time — spit in
God’s face — and stepped into that abyss.

Here are the essential facts about little Kayla’s killer. He fought
with her the day before in playground squabble. He returned the
following day carrying a stolen gun. He pointed the gun at another boy
before turning it on Kayla. He then pulled the trigger and killed her,
ran into a bathroom, and threw the gun in the trash. He was caught and
held for the police by school personnel. When questioned by the police,
he lied, falsely implicating another boy as the killer in possession of
the gun. Later he changed his story and said he only wanted to scare
Kayla. He was released from police custody to return home with
relatives, as if nothing had happened.

The prosecutor says the little boy did something naughty, but is too
young to be charged because he is not able to form intent. Perhaps. But
if he did not intend to kill Kayla, why did he come to school the day
after he fought with her, armed with a gun he had stolen? If he did not
know right from wrong, why did he throw the gun in the trash in the
bathroom, after he shot Kayla? And why did he lie to police, telling
them that someone else had the gun? The boy also had a history of
violence. He had a propensity for violent movies and had been suspended
from school for fighting with other children and for stabbing a
different girl with a pencil.

All of this information was downplayed as the story began to age. The
boy, we learned, came from a wretched home. Child welfare was aware of
the circumstances but had not intervened. Police, it was later learned,
had a felony warrant for the man now charged with leaving the stolen gun
accessible to the boy. By the end of the week, everyone was a victim,
and those looking for the facts were inundated in an orgy of pity as it
rolled off the presses. Forgotten in the party was the fact that a young
boy had ensured his playground enemy would never again bother him, had
vastly improved his life surroundings after moving in with his
relatives, and there were no adverse effects in sight. He had learned a
very valuable life lesson. The simple fact is, every action this young
boy took indicates premeditation, followed by knowledge of guilt and a
desire to escape punishment. Have we actually reached the point where
murder is excusable because it’s wrong for you to put your values on me?

    The tide of the twentieth century was flowing in a different
    direction altogether. It was the picture palaces, their fronts so
    brilliantly lighted, inside so mysteriously dark, that provided our true
    churches and chapels. There we sat, separately or clasped together, in
    scented darkness (in those days attendants during intervals squirted
    perfume like flit over the heads of the patrons in their seats) and
    worshipped our tribal gods — sex, money, and violence — as they were
    projected onto the screen and entered into our own minds and bodies. …
    Thus the new gospel was propounded: In the beginning was the Flesh and
    the Flesh became Word. …


    – Malcolm Muggeridge

Candice Bergen is by all accounts a beautiful and talented
woman. She responded quite humanly when, in the character of Murphy
Brown, she was chided by then Vice President Dan Quayle for making
fatherhood irrelevant to childhood, by having a child with no plans to
obtain a permanent father. One wonders now how many young boys there are
on playgrounds now, angry and hateful and envious at the Kaylas in their
lives with both mom and dad? Perhaps these boys’ mothers cheered Ms.
Bergen’s defiance and followed her lead — but lacked the money, power
and support of the fashionable Hollywood community when they actually
became a single mother. How many of their children will never have a
chance, and how many Kaylas will pay the ultimate price — their hopes,
dreams, and young lives snuffed out on America’s playgrounds?

How many stabbings, shootings and gruesome murders did Kayla’s killer
see before his young mind embraced the hatred on the silver screen and
the flickering midnight television tube? How many of Hollywood’s best
minds labored to create the hateful world Kayla’s young killer loved?
Perhaps we should have an annual spectacle and awards banquet for them
as well? Should they not receive the honor they deserve for the society
they have labored so hard to create? Or are all the honors to go to the
schoolyard killers they succor, the entire price to be paid by the
Kaylas of America, their mothers, fathers, siblings and grandparents?

God is the consummate and eternal realist. The flickering images of
sex, money and violence that so many young killers and their protégés
worship are but shadows of their lives that might have been — had they
embraced the light of His Presence. As it was in the beginning, mankind
seems ever eager to embrace Satan’s lie, while doubting God’s infinite
goodness and love for us.

The Kaylas of the world will live and grow in the light of God’s
presence, for He alone is the eternal reality we all face. But what of
these young killers? Are we as a society, as individuals, incapable of
standing against the flood of evil that engulfs them and spills over
onto us? Are Hollywood’s cheap fantasies, born in minds dedicated to the
selling of soap, to be the only reality we offer these children, playing
out finally to the tune of the executioner’s song?

And what of our own shriveled souls? How long will we turn to leaders
so visionless and spiritually empty that they, like Kayla’s young
killer, embrace the world of shadows and lies on the flickering screen
of our minds? Are we, too, so far removed from God’s power by our
materialistic worship that we no longer believe in His never ending,
transforming power in the lives of others? Or do we — who know right
from wrong, good from evil — determine to stand united in the power of
God’s love and Spirit to fulfill the promise of this life for the Kaylas
and the would-be killers of this world?

    Though, in terms of history, the darkness falls, blacking out
    us and our world, You have overcome history. You came as light into the
    world in order that whoever believed in You should not remain in
    darkness. Your light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not
    overcome it. Nor ever will.


    – Malcolm Muggeridge

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