This week I turned on the news, held my 5-year-old daughter in my arms and cried. Over 500 people shot in Las Vegas—500 daughters, sons, fathers and wives ceased to be human beings and became walking targets while dancing to country music. The largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history…and I fear it is only going to get worse.
I recently listened to an audio recording by Paul Harvey called “If I were the devil…” and it got me thinking.
If I were the devil, I’d infiltrate politics. If we see party lines over people, then abuses of power and corruption of basic human morality become political exploitation, not matters that demand decency.
I’d divide and conquer. I’d separate people by race, by socioeconomics, by nation and by language. I’d make you afraid of various religions and disgusted by differing opinions. I’d whisper that it’s us vs. them, and I’d watch the sheep scatter at the sound of thunder. I’d remove God, and tell you that you are better off without Him. I’d make you your own king, if I were the devil.
I’d destroy families. I’d break homes like glass and let the people cut their hands with all the broken pieces. I’d make sure that children raised themselves and that televisions were babysitters. I’d make pornography a booming business and let marriages break beneath their chains. That’s what I would do, if I were the devil.
I’d let them argue over gun rights. I’d let them debate and fight over how much liberty is too much, and what weapons go too far. The greatest rifle in every gun closet is one that shoots bullets of separation. The weapon of mass destruction I’d devise would be loneliness.
Seventy percent of school shootings are committed by people who were born after the year 1980. Many of them were about 15 years old and all of them attacked people within their own community who they perceived as responsible for their loneliness. More baby boomers die today from suicide than car accidents. I wouldn’t want you to pick up that phone and ask for help, if I were the devil.
People don’t kill themselves because they are connected, they kill themselves because they are lonely. I’d want people isolated and intoxicated. I’d make every man an island, if I were the devil.
In the 1960s in the U.S., there was one school shooting. In the 1980s there were 27. In the 1990s there were 58. In the past decade there have been over 140. Disconnection is literally killing us. But I wouldn’t tell you that, if I were the devil.
I’d want social media to make us anti-social. I’d want memes to end friendships. I’d want Christians to be exclusive and addiction to feel inclusive. I’d want people to serve their work rather than their families. I’d want fatherhood to go extinct. I’d want the same human beings that are supposed to be wired for connection, to become self-centered and narcissistic. I’d make sure you were too busy to pray. I’d tell you that God can’t hear you. I’d turn the Bible into coasters, if I were the devil.
So basically, I would leave things as they are. I’d hope no one changed a thing. I’d watch you hustle and scurry thinking you had all the time in the world, and then I’d laugh, if I were the devil.
Heather Thompson Day is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Andrews University. She is the author of five Christian books, including Life After Eden, and writer for The Spilled Milk Club. Facebook her, or check her out on Instagram.
Photo by Robb North