A school shooting was foiled this week in the Chicago area. A former student crashed a graduation practice and opened fire when a police officer confronted him. The officer returned fire, and the incident was quelled.
“Nobody important was injured in the shooting.” That’s a quote from the article I read, posted on an unapologetically pro-police website.
I could not sympathize more with the attitude behind that statement. At the same time, though, I could not help but think it might have been a bit too much. The precise adjective eludes me. “Snarky”? “Cynical”? Maybe just good old fashioned “mean”? I don’t know.
The truth is, we are all important. Heroes and villains, geniuses and dummies, jocks and geeks, prom queens and wallflowers. In fact, the story we get back in many of these tragedies is that the perpetrator felt unimportant. He was excluded from polite company — sometimes for his own objectionable or antisocial behavior, but excluded nonetheless. If someone had tried harder to make him feel valued, the theory goes, he might have chosen a different path.
None of this excuses bad behavior, of course. But extreme actions taken by others does not give us a pass for our own bad behavior toward them. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) does not come with qualifications, as far as I can tell.