Over the past couple weeks, I have reflected upon the events that transpired in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire upon his former classmates in what is now considered one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
Seventeen students and faculty tragically lost their lives in the event. It’s not the first time violence has struck people of the United States.
Shortly after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 1, 2017, I wrote an article for Scroll titled, “Does the United States have a gun problem or is it the people?” I found myself again asking the question: Are guns or people at the root cause of violent deaths in the United States?
In Genesis 6:11-13, it says, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”
Since the time of the creation, the influence of Satan and evil remain prevalent.
Our society loves violence. There’s violence in movies, video games and even music. A study led by Ohio State University Professor Brad J. Bushman showed an increasing number of violent acts in films with each passing year. However, this does not just apply to R-rated movies; this data mainly applies to movies rated PG-13.
Youth and adults alike spend hours each day glued to screens, unaware of their increased exposure to violent media. I can almost guarantee that individuals like Nikolas Cruz (Parkland), Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine) have some level of influence from violence in media.
The answer to the question I asked almost five months ago if we have a problem with people or guns, has become even clearer to me:
It is people and how our society glorifies violence.
Banning guns and other weapons from the people won’t stop acts of evil and violence. Genesis 6:13 reads, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them.” Where there is man, there is violence. There will always be individuals inflicting pain and suffering on others.
However, there is still hope. Elder Gary E. Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared his experience of visiting Madeleine Wilford, one of the victims in the Parkland, Florida, shooting. Wilford was injured in the attack and found herself in the hospital, fighting to survive.
“We gathered around Maddy, and it was like a spiritual oasis in the midst of all this worldly chaos and oppression,” Elder Stevenson told the Church News. “We were there, in that hospital room, enjoying the fruits of the Comforter.”
In these times of tragedy and violence, the true answer to peace and happiness is through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Their power and influence have touched my life in times of heartache, pain and affliction.
As society turns toward Jesus Christ, we will be able to get through these times of trial. We can find our own “spiritual oasis,” as Elder Stevenson shared, in our world filled with violence.