The recent deaths of 20 precious children and six school staffers in Newtown, Conn., has resulted in a national outpouring of mourning and sympathy for the families as well as a major discussion about causes. It is important that we think clearly before courses of preventive action are taken. Such events have “always” happened. It is difficult to understand all the contributing factors and the weight to give to each, and placing the blame on one single issue with an exaggerated response is usually not helpful.

As an example, there may need to be a revisiting of gun ownership rules, such as denying convicted criminals the right to legally own guns. But I am reminded that Connecticut has more-stringent gun control laws than many other states.

So I suggest the national discussion include more-fundamental core issues. I offer three “beginning” points of suggestions. Each could be defined more specifically if anyone wishes to pursue such discussion.

First, the idea of the existence of “evil” is being given more credibility. I suggest we accept that evil is present within each soul at the point of birth (or conception), rather than one becoming evil because of evil actions. Such an evil propensity can be turned in a good direction with the influence of conscience, religion and proper cultural values. MorAL neutrality is a myth.

Second, let us remember the centrality of family, with a present and active father, as a major contributing factor to the health of children and the larger culture. More than one study has confirmed the strategic centrality of the traditional family for childhood development and educational achievement.

Third, columnist Cal Thomas stated, “If there is a source of evil, is there also a source of good? And if there is, has that source for good been offended by all the accumulated evil we are piling up, according to an upper hand?” Wow! I suggest this is a major point. More than one author has observed that a key to the greatness of our nation is its past steadfastness at proclaiming and defending personal freedom balanced with a core set of values that enabled us to cooperatively function as a society.

We desperately need a individual and culturewide “change of mind” about what is evil and what is good. The old fashioned biblical word “repentance” comes to mind. Surely we all can do some honest soul searching at such a time as this.

Larry E. Miller

retired pastor

Baton Rouge