Punitive punishment in response to crime is perhaps the most compelling solution offered by a story of fear. It is also the least effective solution in the context of real life. Solutions that treat people as the problem only cause shame and cement brokenness, at best preventing further overt acts of harm. If we are to seek after the life that really is life, we must treat people as the point; we must put the vast majority of our effort into responses that empower, heal, educate, restore, equip, and otherwise bring to light the gifts of our greatest and most unique asset: us. Decentering the story of fear that has gripped us as a nation and a denomination may be the single most difficult but essential step toward ending the destructive cycles we seem so intent on perpetuating.

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