Good vs. Evil-Is It That Simple?

Last night I attended a movie at the Cape Cinema. It was entitled “Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA”. The film was sponsored by a large group of local community groups led by Church Women United. The theatre was packed and we heard a panel after the documentary. The film and discussion gave us all a lot to think about. I hope this is a conversation we can have in our church too.

One argument that I have heard about gun safety says that all we need to do is to be sure that guns don’t get into the hands of the wrong people. Folks argue that if we have good mental health screening we can avoid a lot of unnecessary violence and cut our suicide rate and the number of mass shooting. I was thinking about that idea while I watched the film because it tells the stories of families who have lost a loved one to gun violence. It starts with a woman who seemed happily married but was then dealing with an abusive spouse who turned

to gun violence when he got angry.

Then there was this very touching story about a young couple in which the man was in law school. They were about to be married and he developed severe carpal tunnel syndrome and soon after graduating from law school he killed himself.

On the way home I kept thinking about these examples of people who seem to be happy but then suddenly their anger or despair becomes lethal. The idea that all we need to do is disarm the bad eggs assumes that some of us are virtuous while others are not. If only we could truly separate the sheep from the goats, but the Bible tells us that nice people are capable of violence, just as horribly hurt people are capable of noble deeds.

Peter Marty writes in this week’s column, “This thinking helps feed the narrative that God only makes two kinds of people. One kind is righteous and can be trusted to behave honorably regardless of what they have in their hands. The other is unrighteous and cannot be trusted for any good. The problem with this crude dichotomy is that it rests on a naive view of human nature. if only evil people committing evil deeds could be separated from the rest of us, we might be fine.”

Marty says the trouble is the line dividing good and evil cuts through each of us. He goes on to say that since we are all flawed and full of potential our challenge is not to take the right stand but to try to position ourselves in helpful ways. Somehow these high school youth have risen to this moment in history with new clarity and purpose.

At the movie last night we heard from 5 panelists from the community and the 2 youth from high school spoke clearly about the opportunity we all have to make changes in gun safety. It gives us a lot to think about.


Rev. Susan

Here is the link to Peter Marty’s article

And, a link to the movie:

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