Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
September 25, 2006
Culture of death spawned school murders
The Sept. 13 rampage by a deranged gunman at Dawson College in Montreal should spur some deep questioning about the direction our culture is headed.
In the wake of the shootings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper rhetorically asked, "How do you explain somebody who wants to end their life and who wants to end it by killing other people?"
Harper's question need not be left in the realm of the rhetorical. One cannot get totally inside the mind of the killer Kimveer Gill. But neither should one brush aside Gill's rampage as a random act. While there may be no direct way of preventing such acts, we should not accept them as inevitable.
The attempt at mass murder at Dawson College is not an isolated incident. It followed on the heels of the 1989 murders of 14 female engineering students at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, the engineering professor at Concordia University who murdered four of his colleagues in 1992, the 1999 killings at Columbine High School in the U.S., followed a week later by a shooting rampage that killed Jason Lang at W.R. Myers High School in Taber.
And there are other incidents.
Mass murder, while far from being a way of life, is more common in North America now than even three decades ago.
It is not stretching credulity to say this phenomenon of mass murder is one aspect of what Pope John Paul II called the culture of death.
Gill's profile on VampireFreaks.com was filled with images of death and suicide with comments such as "You are longing to kill yourself, you slit your wrists, not for fun, but because the world isn't worth living in."
One basic spiritual rule is that you are what you eat. Gills' obsession with certain types of music and Goth culture may not have directly led him to kill. But if you feed yourself a steady diet of violent images, your mind and heart will be bent in that direction. Contrariwise, if you spend an hour a day praying before the Blessed Sacrament, you will be opened to the love of God.
We ought to be concerned about what people are feeding their minds and souls.
Part of the diet of our society is the use of violence to solve apparent problems. In Canada, there are 110,000 abortions a year; in the United States, more than a million. Then there is the war in Iraq - tens of thousands of people slain in a war that has no rationale.
In our media, violence crops up repeatedly as a source of entertainment in TV shows, movies, and computer and video games.
All of this is an integral part of a culture of death. Murder as a form of entertainment is not a harmless personal choice. Killing the unborn cannot be done without harming the souls of those who make the choice and without darkening the soul of society.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet has linked Quebec's extremely high youth suicide and abortion rates. "It's as if we don't want to live or to give life," he said in 2004.
In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul told how Cain's murder of his brother Abel completed humanity's journey from the Garden of Eden to the land of Nod (nn. 7-9). Eden was a place of plenty, of harmonious relationships and of friendship with God. Nod is "a place of scarcity, loneliness and separation from God. Cain will be 'a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth' (Genesis 4:14): Uncertainty and restlessness will follow him forever."
Such a description resonates with the bleakness of Kimveer Gill's website and his sad life. As a society, we need to abandon all vestiges of the culture of death and built up the culture of life. It is our most urgent task.
Gill should not be absolved of personal responsibility for the mayhem at Dawson College. But such mayhem ought to be expected in a society where violence and death are too often an accepted path for entertainment and problem solving.
- Glen Argan
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