By John David Dyche
Murderous violence has been around since Cain slew Abel. People were killing other people long before the invention of gunpowder.
Practically incessant slaughter is a central and undeniable element in the history of humankind. As science and technology enhanced our lives in so many ways they also made homicide easier and more efficient.
Industrialized killing on a mass scale was a defining characteristic of the last century. Its legacy was the prospect of global annihilation, which has loomed over us so long we have become somewhat numb to destruction on any lesser scale unless it touches us directly.
The brightest minds and noblest souls have done their best in service of the cause of non-violence. Many of them have met violent ends for doing so. Obviously, none have succeeded fully, although there have been successes.
While some consider non-violence an ethical absolute, others of great gifts and moral seriousness reason and/or pray themselves to a conclusion that violence is not only sometimes justified, but is desirable or imperative if employed to bring an end even greater violence.
At every level, from international relations between nation states to interpersonal relations between neighbors, there are many well-meaning pragmatists admirably dedicated to reducing the apparently inevitable toll of violence to a socially tolerable minimum.
Sometimes, however, even the most hardened human hearts of the Twenty-First Century cannot help but cry out in anger, pain, and sorrow: "Why! Stop! Please!" These are such times.
In the midst of an already bloody Syrian civil war, a chemical weapons attack killed 1,429 people, including 426 children, in an especially awful way. National attention turned, albeit briefly, to the issue of a military response.
Next, in the latest episode of America's increasingly frequent mass shooting horror show, yet another deranged male killed 12 good and decent people in downtown Washington, D.C. In Chicago, a great city parts of which have become a war zone, 18 people were shot in a four-hour period, including 13 in a single incident.
Cold-blooded killing paid a visit to one of Kentucky's most beautiful and peaceful small towns as a gunman murdered three people while two young children were nearby. Shootings in Kentucky's largest cities continued as such a matter of ordinary course that the details become quickly forgotten blurs.
A terrorist attack at a mall in Kenya claimed more than 60 lives. Another at a Christian church in Pakistan took 78. Still another killed at least 60 at a Baghdad funeral.
These are but a few examples, of course. And, sadly, these sanguinary days are not extraordinary. They are all too ordinary, as are the heated and often inconclusive arguments that always follow on such bloodshed.
This column is not a call for any particular political action or agenda. Its voice is far too small to be very influential in the noisy back and forth of policy arguments about such big issues. But it is a hope that in those altogether necessary and appropriate debates everyone will be open to reexamining their long-held positions and prejudices.
Nor is this an exhortation for dramatic spiritual repentance and transformation. Those are worthy goals, but others with superior qualifications can more ably pursue them. But it is a plea from the depths of despair for help and mercy from all sources – human and divine – who can possibly provide it.
Let us not forget that for each act of senseless violence there are countless other gestures of compassion and love. And it is within the power of each of us, acting individually and together, to increase that number.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.