April 16, 2008

We are the Watchmen - Revisited

I wrote this post last year, in response to the massacre at Virginia Tech. It seems appropriate to re-run it today, on the one-year anniversary of this horrific event.

Like many of you, I've been glued to the television for the past few days. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the tragedy in Blacksburg. I don't know that I'll ever get there.

The media has been oh-so-subtly casting blame on the college administration and campus police. There's a big debate about the time line and emergency notification. Now there are all sorts of facts coming to light about the killer's past mental instability. Seems as if professors, campus police, roommates, suitemates and classmates all had an idea that this young man was dangerous, or at least circumspect. Some of his acquaintances have said that when they first heard the gunman was an Asian male, they were afraid it was him.

My first reaction has been, "Why didn't someone step in and do something?"

Of course, it's easy to sit here two days later and ask that question. It's easy to find fault with the stalking victims who didn't press charges, the teachers who didn't take his writings more seriously, and the mental wellness center that didn't follow up with him. Quite simply, they are to blame.

So am I.

So, Believer, are you.

When we witness strange, intimidating behavior and we don't call it out, we're to blame.

When we're afraid to label someone as a potential threat because we don't want to risk offending anyone, we're to blame.

When we don't get involved because it's "none of our business", we're to blame.


But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, the man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.
--Ezekiel 33:6

God appointed Ezekiel as a watchman for Israel. As believers, we are watchmen for the world we live in. It's our job to protect those around us, to lead them to truth & save them from death. We are accountable for the lives of those around us.

Where were the watchmen?

Plenty of people saw this young man's penchant for violence. No one sounded the trumpet. Or if they did, it wasn't loud enough. Perhaps they didn't see the threat as serious. Chalked it up to young adult angst, an over-dramatic expression of feelings. No need to make an issue of it. Let's just address it quickly and quietly move on.

Where were the watchmen?

He stalked girls and no charges were pressed. Did those involved think it was no big deal? That others would think they were overreacting?

Where were the watchmen?

Students quit coming to class because he kept taking their pictures with his cell phone. Appropriate actions weren't taken. Did the teacher or fellow students worry that they would infringe upon his rights...even though he openly infringed upon the rights of others? Were they afraid to label him as a trouble maker or threat, because it could hurt his feelings?

I'm not sure I would've handled things any differently.

As hard as it is this week, we have to look past Virginia Tech and ask ourselves, Where are the watchmen?

We consider people as "quirky" rather than dangerous.

We believe their sin is "not my problem" or that it "doesn't affect me".

We don't want to offend people who think believers are narrow-minded, so we don't tell them the truth.

Where are the watchmen?

We hear people deny God, yet we don't sound the trumpet.

We see them turn their backs to Him, yet we don't warn them of the death they're facing.

We watch as they continue to believe the prince of this world and follow his ways, yet we don't shield them from the sword.

Where, oh where, are the watchmen?

We've trivialized sin. As Anne Graham Lotz says in her book, "My Heart's Cry":

We call lying, exaggeration.
We call stealing another person's reputation, gossip.
We call murder, the right to choose.
We call fornication, safe sex.
We call homosexuality, gay.
We call lust, adult entertainment.
We call profanity, obscenity, blasphemy and pornography, freedom of expression.

We are the watchmen
. And we're falling down on the job.

May God have mercy on us all. And may He bless those whose lives have been forever changed this week.


Alyce said...

Its hard to believe its been a year. Time seems to fly faster and faster these days.
As far as moving the blog over. I just went into my settings and changed the name and then the template that I used. Thats it.. I'll show ya sometime. Oh, and I am coming to town tomorrow..I thought about doing lunch, but its going to be mighty warm for me to leave my groceries in the van.
We'll work it out soon..

Becoming Me said...

Beautiful post. I am glad you reposted it. It brought tears to my eyes. Your writing is wonderful.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

My close friend and her hubby are the leaders of CAmpus Crusade there at VA Tech. I have been thinking about this incident and reliving it alongside them all week. Such a tragedy. I am glad you re-posted this as I didn't see it the first time.

His Girl said...

this post touched me right through. at the risk of being over dramatic... I can never be the same again.

how could you be?