The chant, “Do Something” rang from a crowd of frustrated citizens after the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Soon afterward, a local Dayton band produced a song titled, “Do Something – A Call to Action.” The song calls on those in authority to do something about gun violence.
Indeed, we need to do something. Certainly, government has a role to play as our society takes steps in hopes of stopping future mass shootings. As I am sure you are aware, there are two sides to the gun debate, and a substantial crowd with varying opinions in the middle.
Regardless of your personal opinion and position, I suspect we can all agree we need to “do something.” In fact, as you are aware, someone did do something. Universal Studios pulled a satirical horror movie titled “The Hunt” which depicted people hunting fellow human beings for sport. They felt this was not the time for the release.
I applaud Universal Studios for their decision. They did something. However, I question their motives. Had the studio cared about the possible connection between screen violence and mass shootings, they would not have produced the movie to begin with.
I understand the chant, “Do Something.” We have all watched old westerns (which have their own share of violence), in which people are gunned down as the town’s people send out an S.O.S. for someone to come and restore order. My favorite is “The Quick and the Dead” where a female gunfighter (Sharon Stone) comes back to town to seek vengeance on the man (Gene Hackman) who killed her father while he was serving as Sheriff. The movie leads its audience to ask, “Can anyone stop this evil?” You may know, Sharon served justice on Gene, and as she tossed her father’s badge to a soon-t0-be Sheriff she said: “The law’s come back to town.”
It remains to be seen how we might bring law and order to the problem of mass shootings. Yet, I believe one thing: it will not be a single answer. The solution will be multi-faceted, and everyone is going to have to make a contribution. With this in mind, I offer the following ways we can help:
Do Something Action Step #1: Be serious about moral instruction and spiritual community. It is no secret our culture is becoming less literate of biblical truth and less committed to communities of faith. If you don’t believe me, see what happens the next time some of the brightest and quickest minds on the planet find themselves facing a Bible-based category on Jeopardy. Can I be a good person apart from God’s Word? In some ways. Can I love people without being active in the Lord’s church? Yes. But the combination of planting God’s Word in our hearts, in our personal lives and in a spiritual community to which we feel accountable is where moral character is formed. If you want to do something to build a stronger moral foundation for your household and our society, read your Bible and be active in a church. I know it sounds simple, but I don’t know how anyone can demand others “do something” when they don’t make God a priority.
Do Something Action Step #2: Support and pray for law enforcement officers. These are the ones who bring law and order to our community. The unfortunate videos we see of officers doing bad things grossly distort reality. Every day, men and women put their lives on the line to keep us safe. They attempt to engage their communities and serve in ways that are never seen or reported. You can do something for law officers by buying their coffee in line at your morning caffeine station, or picking up their tab at a restaurant. When you see them in uniform, thank them for their service, and try not to be a pain by disobeying road signs and making them waste their time by giving you a ticket.
Do Something Action Step #3: Let those who peddle violence through various media know you don’t appreciation their work. Please understand, I am not saying products such as violent video games and movies always lead to violent acts. But they do make a contribution to the problem, and the principle of free speech is no more an excuse to mindlessly ramp up the depiction of violence than the right to bear arms is to dismiss the debate over things such as background checks. As they say, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” (Well…some people still say it).
Do Something Action Step #4: Serve others. We can no longer afford to be self-absorbed in our culture. There are too many challenges in every fold of every fabric of society for us to think we will not be impacted by what happens to others. Consider a ministry that reaches out to neighborhoods plagued by drug trafficking, prostitution and poverty (not to suggest that these things always go together, but desperation puts people in a place of vulnerability where illegal activity finds fertile soil). Become a mentor for marriages, or a big brother or sister for a child who needs extra guidance. Teach a Sunday School class. Help out in your church’s Student Ministry. Join a prison ministry. Walk with people suffering from mental disorders. The list is endless, but I am certain our government can’t do all of these things by itself. To be honest, I don’t want a government that is big enough to do everything. That’s what we’re here for.
“Do Something!” Yes, we need help with corrective steps in our country that require political clout. But what happens after the next election when people move in and out of office, or the next election, or the next? We should not expect anything to happen in response to our “Do Something” chants if we aren’t willing to do something ourselves.
“Do Something” is no more profound than our “Thoughts and Prayers” when we do nothing.