[image: Water Buffalo, 2014, L. Borch (original image)]
Psalm 140:9–11 (NKJV)
9 “As for the head of those who surround me, Let the evil of their lips cover them; 10 Let burning coals fall upon them; Let them be cast into the fire, Into deep pits, that they rise not up again. 11 Let not a slanderer be established in the earth; Let evil hunt the violent man to overthrow him.”
From a couple of days ago (see HERE):
A Woodlawn man was charged Tuesday with fatally shooting his neighbor, saying he felt "disrespected" when the victim left a Sunday cookout early, according to charging documents.
Police said Brandon Jerome Stanfield, 30, shot and killed Michael Jefferson Jr., 39, inside his home on Rocky Brook Court after Jefferson left a cookout before Stanfield's family arrived, one witness told police, according to documents filed in Baltimore County District Court.
The Cape Buffalo is best photographed with an long, long lens. The Rhino, from what I understand is similarly bad tempered, but the Rhino at least has the decency to have poor eyesight. It's possible he won't see you. The Cape Buffalo????.... well, it's best not to take chances. I say all this with no first hand knowledge but it's how I generally perceive the situation. According to one source, (HERE) the Cape Buffalo has killed more big game hunters than any other animal in Africa. That's not a particularly encouraging statistic and removes any hope of my ever petting one of them.
There are people like that.
I simply cannot imagine being so inflamed by a person's casual slight (if it even was intended as one) that I would follow that person and shoot him multiple times. In this instance the victim had left the shooter's cook-out before the shooter's family arrived. That's all the details we are given. The shooter said that he felt "dis-respected" and that he then followed the victim to the victim's HOME... confronted him and then shot him. My first reaction is: "you have got to be kidding me!"
There must be more background that flows into this tragedy. Both victim and shooter are integrally woven into their own or overlapping matrix. There is the culture of the streets... there is the family background or lack thereof.... there is the social reinforcement that forms the expectations of individuals, whether for ill or good. But it is in the concrete instantiation of such broad categories... where all those things funnel down to two individuals and one with a gun... that we can see the deadly and perverse reality of the abstract principles.
There is some truth to the idea that violence is in our DNA and that to a greater or lesser strength in particular individuals. I am not opposed to that general thought. However being inclined to something and acting on that inclination are two different things. A person who inclined to harmful and anti-social behavior can be subjected to counter-balancing pressures and the excitment of competing inclinations. This is the role of "role-models" or "mentors." By generating a relationship in which the person who is the "role-model" is deemed worthy of imitating and whose good opinion is important, a competing inclination is introduced to help curb behaviors that place that good opinion in jeopardy. Here is where human beings differ, fundamentally, from the Cape Buffalo.
What this terrible story illustrates is the essential unraveling of the social fabric in many of our neighborhoods, in some entire cities and potentially across the nation. The hyper individualism that is the essential feature magnifies "dis-respect" to the status of a capital offense. There is no "we" here.... only "I".... and hence there is no fabric or tapestry, there are only individual threads. When that is the case we will be ruled more by our DNA than by higher level consciousness.
There is hope and a remedy for this situation. It requires the formation of a moral community, small and large, that understands and values individuals in terms of the wider body. This community must possess a consensus that they are not a rule unto themselves but that they are subordinate to a rule that is worthy of pursuing. The Lord Jesus Christ came to institute just such a community and to vest it with His Holy Spirit unto the ends that men like these could, within its fellowship, be equipped and motivated to pursue another type of life, with different ends and different methods of attaining those ends.
He came to call men, even such as these, to that Kingdom, which is His Visible Church, and there to embrace the life that it offers. I am bold to confess that it is the only real hope we have in the face of social disintegration. Structural changes, more social programs, even more educational opportunities, safety-nets of various kinds... can all have some short-term effect... they are essentially band-aids or pressure bandages to stop hemorraghing blood flow. The only long term cure is to translate the individual from one culture to another... from one way of living to another... in short, it is for the individual to be given a new life, being born again into a different relation to the world and to the God who made that world.
Individualism, even Evangelical Christian individualism, has to be recognized as the most basic expression of "autonomy." It is the idea that every man is captain of his own soul and determines his own destiny and judges right and wrong solely in reference to himself. What happened in Baltimore is the ultimate expression of just how deadly and wicked this fundamental orientation can be.
Christians hold the key and have the responsibility to take this Kingdom entrusted to us and see it as the only hope for our land and the world in general. Apart from that we will continue to "Slouch Toward Gomarrah" as Robert Bork cautioned us.
Along the way more blood will be spilled and more sordid stories will unfold. There is urgency here.