Seek the root causes of evil in our society

As our nation seeks to comprehend the causes of an almost incomprehensible evil, like the recent school shooting in Connecticut, we must consider the issue in light of a growing body of evidence that suggests Americans are moving away from God. Alexander Solzhenitsyn famously explained the great disasters of modern Russian history by citing a similar trend when he stated, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” In light of the evidence of a growing secularization of American society, it behooves us to ask what drives this trend. The late Jewish writer and scholar, Will Herberg, suggested three causes.

First, he cited the triumph of technology in America. Herberg, who was no Luddite, criticized the rapid speed of technological development in this country as well as the pervasiveness of its influence in American culture. He suggested this development has led to a certain technological arrogance evident in modern man’s tendency to see himself as co-equal with God as “Creator.”

A second reason America has moved away from God, Herberg suggested, is the exponential growth of our government. While he agreed with St. Paul that government was ordained by God and serves a sacred purpose, Herberg argued the omnipresent modern state has taken on functions previously reserved to the Church. As a result, those in need have tended to look less to family, friends and the Church in times of trouble, as those institutions have been supplanted by a nameless, faceless, bureaucracy of good intentions.

Lastly, Herberg believed the flight from God was spurred by what he called the victory of mass society. Hostile to the idea of a hierarchical social order because they view all differences as discriminatory, the proponents of mass society espouse a system of leveling egalitarianism designed to “improve” upon God’s creation. The result of this misguided view has been the further alienation of man from his Creator.

All Americans were rightly horrified by the events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and it is important we have a discussion regarding the causes of violence in our country. For that very reason, we should not become distracted by seemingly important, yet ultimately peripheral issues, such as the limits of the Second Amendment. Instead, we must consider the root causes of our nation’s increasing moral disquietude. Without such serious introspection, evil and chaos are given license in a society rapidly fleeing from God.

Kevin Ritter