Heroes, Shooters, and a Savior

“I believe[ ] . . . that violent urges cannot be completely quashed, but they can be channeled into virtuous expression.” Mona Charen
In her column this week, Mona Charen celebrates three heroes, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler, who stopped a heavily armed man from carrying out a lone wolf terrorist attack on a French train last weekend. The three have been friends since age 7 when they played war together in an otherwise peaceful suburban neighborhood.
The three men, two trained by the U.S. military, tackled the terrorist who “kept pulling more weapons” out of his stash. According to the Washington Post, the gunman had been on a terror watch list but was allowed to board the train anyway.
After that, so much went right, when it could have gone so wrong.
Because the WiFi connection wasn’t good where they had been sitting, the three had recently moved into the train car where they were sleeping when the gunman entered.  He had just shot another passenger (whose life one of the heroes would save). Then his guns jammed, and he didn’t get much chance to unjam them before the three men overtook him.
The gunman’s story is a sad one. Unschooled since age 12 and cut off from his family for unknown reasons, he claims to be a homeless, hungry victim who just wanted to rob the train.
Yesterday, another lone gunman approached, shot, and killed a reporter and her cameraman and seriously injured the person being interviewed. Like the gunman on the train, this man also appears to have been a loner who saw himself as a victim. But he wasn’t uneducated. He wasn’t hungry. And he wasn’t on a watch list.
He was angry. He was full of violent aggression that had been building up as society, in his view, oppressed him.
Such incidents bring out calls to arm ourselves further or disarm ourselves completely.
What if the news staff had armed themselves?
I’m not sure they would have had time to draw a weapon. Bryce Williams had the element of surprise on his side. Conceal and carry permits save lives. But no one would expect to face a shooter during an interview with a representative of the local Chamber of Commerce. Bryce Williams had no outlet for his violent aggression except violent aggression.
What if three young men had never met? What if someone had not taught them to channel their violent aggression into virtuous expression?
No human relationship could have saved Bryce Williams. His inability to form a healthy human connection is something every society has seen throughout history. We see more of it today because we deny what is within all of us. The tendency to hate and to lash out to hurt others.
When we acknowledge that the problem is our own, we can look to a Savior who heals our hearts.
Three little boys used their imaginations to create an imaginary war zone. They came to faith in the Savior who heals hearts. They grew up to be real life heroes who overcame the darkness within another’s heart.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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