The Weaponization of Human Minds
Human beings are by nature free to follow their beliefs. We have the capacity to think, to invent, to create, and to use the resources around us for incredibly great good. But with that freedom and ability comes an equal ability to do incredibly great evil.
The two come as a matched pair, and they can’t be uncoupled. You cannot keep a man from doing evil without affecting his ability to do good. Put a robber in jail, and he no longer can work to serve you. Shackles intended to limit people’s capacity to do evil will in equal proportion limit people’s capacity to do good.
In addition to this consideration, we also need to think about what kind of shackles are effective for what kind of people. If someone’s aim is to get money, we can limit his ability to do evil by fining him. If his aim is physical freedom, we can restrict him by the threat of jail. But what if his ultimate goal is death? For such a person laws, fines, punishment, and incarceration have no power. That was the case of Stephen Paddock.
How many more are there like him? More to the point, are we, as a society weaponizing other minds? By teaching people to believe that human life is nothing but a vapor, with no value and no meaning, we contribute to our own demise. All the security agencies in the world cannot guarantee they can protect us from someone acting on that belief.
It is time for us to remember this reality. Societies are not made safe and secure by abandoning any communal search for eternal truth while forever ratcheting up restrictions on individual freedom. The safest and most peaceful societies foster a common respect and love for human life while leaving as much freedom as possible for human ingenuity and energy to act on that love.
Is human life meaningless? There is no avoiding this question. To say “I don’t know” is to say, “It means so little to me that I can’t even take a stand.” Such an attitude contributes to making ever more Paddocks. It is an act of pure evil, and it’s time we stopped pretending otherwise.
Jonathan G. Lange is a pastor of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. He has raised his family in Wyoming for two decades, serving parishes in Evanston and Kemmerer. He is a leader of the Wyoming Pastors Network.
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