By: James Edwin Gibson
We need more common sense and fewer laws.
Two days ago (May 31, 2019), a gunman killed twelve people in a workplace in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and injured others, before being killed himself by police, as reported by numerous media sources. A huge number of people have been killed in mass shootings in workplaces, schools, churches, etc., in recent decades.
I don’t think passing a huge number of new laws that may be difficult or impossible to enforce is the solution. Instead, I think we need to instill basic morals and common sense in people.
If a resident of the United States seeks to read all the federal, state, county, and city laws of the place where he or she lives, even if this person reads twelve hours daily, seven days a week, for his or her entire lifetime, this individual would not finish reading them in a normal lifespan.
None of us have read or even heard of all the laws. If we haven’t read all the laws and don’t know them, how can we obey them? Furthermore, some of the existing laws on the books likely contradict one another, so it would be impossible to obey them all anyway.
The key to maintaining a civilized society is not in passing thousands or millions of laws. It is in learning common sense and applying it.
Basic Moral Teachings
Basic moral teachings that every child ought to learn are to be truthful, to be honest, to love others, and not to lie, steal, kill, rape, etc. If parents, teachers, community leaders, and religious leaders instill these basic teachings in people, we might not need many existing laws. And, our law enforcement officials would seldom need to deal with violations of many of the remaining laws.
I remember enjoying seeing a plaque on the wall of my classroom when I was in the fifth grade. On it were written the Ten Commandments from the Bible. If persons read and sincerely sought to follow those Ten Commandments, much of the evil in this world would cease to exist in my opinion.
As far as I remember, my fifth grade teacher never read the Ten Commandments to us. And, I only remember her even referring to that plaque of them on the wall once. But, even if we never read the plaque or had the commandments memorized, I think we knew those basics. We knew it was wrong to lie, steal, kill, etc. We’d learned it somehow from parents, earlier teachers, or someone else earlier in our childhood.
Other Rules or Laws
Of course, we need other rules or laws besides the Ten Commandment. My fifth grade class during the 1960s had at least a few rules. If I remember correctly, the rules included the items listed in the remaining sentences of this paragraph. We weren’t allowed to chew gum in class. We weren’t supposed to throw paper wads at classmates or the teacher. We were not to pass notes in class. We were not supposed to talk to classmates in class, except at certain times. And, cheating was not allowed on tests.
All those rules seemed designed to make sure we would treat one another fairly, respectfully. And, when I took time to think about it (which I didn’t always do, I admit), the rules all made sense. They were common sense. And, we didn’t even have rules about most things. Our teacher never told us not to kill anyone because it was common sense that we shouldn’t do it. And, there was the plaque on the wall if we wanted to read it.
A modern, diverse society probably needs more rules than a more homogeneous classroom in southeastern Kentucky like my fifth grade class. But, seeking to be respectful to others is what most specific laws seek to accomplish, as I see it.
We need to get back to the basics. This world needs a few basic, quality, simple commandments or laws to follow. Instead we have a huge number of laws that no one has read. Perhaps even worse, modern laws often seem written in erudite, esoteric lexicon that most can’t understand.
With all the mass shootings and violence in school classrooms, workplaces, churches, etc., it seems that many have never learned the reasons for that basic commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” (Exodus 20:13, King James Version). Let’s devote more time to loving others, more time to teaching others not to kill others, and more time to teaching them why not to kill others, and less time to passing unnecessary laws that won’t be read or enforced.
Various media sources report that the gunman in the Virginia Beach shooting I mentioned earlier was certified professional engineer DeWayne Craddock. Apparently Craddock’s specific motive is not known yet. But, my guess is that a main reason for this shooting and many others is that the basic teaching of “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” its meaning, and the reasons for it, were not properly instilled, cultivated, and rewarded in his life. He apparently never learned to love even his enemies as Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught. And, he apparently never received the love and support he needed for himself from others.
CNN reports that co-worker Joseph Scott said he “liked him [DeWayne Craddock].” Furthermore, the CNN piece states that Joseph “exchanged pleasantries” with him “shortly before” the shooting. He told DeWayne to “have a good day,” and in reply was told to do so as well. Scott left work before the shooting.
One thing many of these mass shootings have in common seems to be that the shooter does not shoot a person or persons who have been friendly to them, shown love to them.
I think we need to learn that basic teaching of Jesus and the Apostle Paul to love even our enemies. As John Harrigan has been quoted as stating“People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.”
Maybe those of us who call ourselves Christians need especially to remember Harrigan’s words (and those of Jesus and the Apostle Paul) in the encounters we have with people daily. We could help many people. We might even help save lives, including our own. Indeed, that one basic teaching could replace a lot of laws and make a positive difference in a lot of lives.
 Maxouris, Christina; Sanchez, Ray; and Devine, Curt; “Virginia Beach gunman wished him a ‘good day’ before the carnage, co-worker says”; CNN; updated 9:17 p.m., Saturday, June 1, 2019; webpage accessed June 2, 2019; https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/01/us/virginia-beach-suspect/index.html
 Harrigan, John; “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.”; BrainyQuote.com; webpage accessed June 2, 2019; https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_harrigan_227772 (The quote is also available on other websites.)
This piece is being submitted to Craft News Report on June 2, 2019. It is loosely adapted from a July 10, 2016 Google Blogger piece, as well as other past writings of the author.
Copyright © 2019 James Edwin Gibson. James is the author of the books True Christianity: It May Not Be What You Think (2014, second edition 2015, third edition 2017) and Several True (I Think) Stories: Can Truth Be Stranger Than Fiction? (2016, second edition 2017). You may contact James at email@example.com regarding this column. James thanks his friend Paul for publishing it on his website, thanks you all for reading, and hopes you all enjoy God’s blessings!