Against Inherited Sanity

by John K. Stoner

The mass murder shooting in Roseburg, Oregon confronts us with an urgent question.

Can we expect to endorse mass homicide on the wholesale level and successfully forbid or prevent it on the retail level?

As a thought experiment or moral reflection, consider this.

Since World War II our society has justified mass killing as a way to restrain evil and improve the world. Most egregiously, we incinerated two Japanese cities and ever since touted Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) as normal and sane. Most of our best known Christian theologians and preachers have justified the possession and use of nuclear weapons, every new invention of military hardware and the pursuit of global domination.

The media never misses a chance to celebrate wars of the past and praise those who have killed human beings around the world in the name of one or another higher good.

The public, including our children, are supposed to think all of this makes sense, is normal, rational and moral.

Could we produce a sane population by insisting that 2 + 2 does not equal 4? Everybody consulting their own mind knows it is 4, just as everybody consulting their own conscience knows that killing people is morally degraded and degrading.  Yet the nation state says it is not and the culture--in a thousand small ways--applauds the state for saying so.  So individuals are left to twist their own minds and consciences to agree with this distortion.

Hello! It is not working. Is anybody noticing that it is not working?

We are capable of doing immensely better than this, but where is the leadership to affirm the inherited sanity in all of us?