Violence in a movie theater isn't news. There's plenty of it on the screen.
This week in Florida, the violence was in the seats. As a retired police officer shot and killed the man in front of him. Apparently, because the victim was texting during the previews. Turns out he was texting daycare to check on his three-year-old daughter.
I'm sure more facts may come out in the days ahead, but it remains a disturbing reminder of a troubling reality of our time.
We're surrounded by angry people, one provocation away from an explosion. You can tell by how enraged they get over seemingly small things. You know they had to already have a very full glass for a single drop to make them spill all over everybody.
Our easily-triggered, quickly-provoked anger should scare us. Because rage crushes reason and makes us blind - to the expensive consequences of your eruption.
When I was in Quito, Ecuador, I was surprised to learn that the city is virtually ringed by volcanic mountains. Dormant, I hope.
The locals pointed out one in particular. Anasana. "It's 18,000 feet," they said. I was impressed. "They believe it used to be 28,000 feet." I was curious.
Turns out that it just blew its top one day. The eruption didn't last all that long. But the damage is forever. What's been lost is lost for good.
Anger's like that.
Just ask the spouses, the children who bear the permanent scars from a human volcano near them. Or the countless people who are forever diminished by the angry words, names, and accusations heaped on them. Probably by someone who supposedly loves them.
The "molten lava" of rage often comes from a lot of junk we stuff inside. Wounds. Disappointments. Perceived injustices.
I've found you have just two choices with life's bad stuff. You can let it go. Or you'll let it grow. Bitterness, grudges, unforgiveness - they don't stay the same size. They morph from deal-withable grassfires into uncontrollable infernos. Unless you deal with them when they're small.
I found this simple defusing technique in the ancient wisdom of the world's best-selling book. "Do not let the sun go down while you're angry," the Bible tells us.
In other words, deal with it while it's small. Manageable. Talk it through. Forgive, if necessary. Get some distance. Just don't stuff it.
Our hair-trigger temper should scare us enough to seek out a safe place to dump the build-up of years. Someone we can pour it all out to. Someone who can help us work through it. Even to trace our rage back to those original wounds we never dealt with. Wounds that became the foundation for what is now a volcanic backlog of angry "sundowns."
Unconfronted anger is a ticking time bomb. Sure to explode.
Carrying us to consequences we could never imagine.
If we're honest, we've all got a dark side. Some of us are better at concealing it than others, but it's still a defining part of who we are.
One teenage guy summed it up pretty well when he told me, "There's a darkness inside me that scares me." Me, too.
Rage. Passion. Greed. Self-destruction. Selfishness.
All symptoms, the Bible explains. Of a much deeper cancer. Our rebellion against God. Hijackers. That's what we are. While we were "created by Him and for Him," "each of us has turned to His own way" (Colossians 1:16 ; Isaiah 53:6 ).
We've left the Sun we were made for and drifted into ever-darker corners of ourselves. One Bible writer, describing himself as a "prisoner of sin," cried out, "Who will rescue me?"
Then the answer. "Thank God! Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25 ).
The Bible reveals that Jesus turned the full wrath of the beast of sin on Himself. When He absorbed all our darkness - and all the hell that goes with it. Dying on the cross.
He has beaten the monster that has continually beaten me. The darkness doesn't have to win any longer.
There is a Liberator.
There is a Savior.