I woke this morning hearing my wife sobbing in another room, as I entered she said, “I can’t stop thinking of those children, I can’t believe it happened, how will those families ever recover?” She was asking her psychologist husband, who is supposed to have answers, to help her make sense out of this horrible tragedy. Little did she know I had awakened several times during the night thinking of the parents, the innocent children, and of the families of the adults killed. I wished it was just a horrible, horrible dream. Of course reality sets in and we are left with one of the greatest puzzles of mankind. Why do certain individuals kill the most innocent among us, and somehow believe they are justified in their actions?
The Actions of a Few
I wish I could say something that would lessen the unimaginable pain of the parents and families in Newtown. I only know a few things that may help. One very critical fact is to realize that the man who committed these atrocities was an extremely disturbed individual. We were not born with this kind of rage; we are programmed to do good from the first breath we take. Somehow along the way a few of us develop distorted, if not paranoid thinking, and believe certain misconceptions as if they were the truth. Those who were bullied, molested, hit, and humiliated are more prone to commit violent acts, but very few ever come close to the kind of actions that were perpetrated in Newtown. We must maintain the belief in the goodness of human beings to survive. We are inherently born with the capacity for empathy, compassion and kindness not violence and mayhem.
Can Healing Take Place?
It is difficult if not impossible to imagine parents of these little angels healing. One thing I know is that it cannot take place in isolation. This pain was created by a deranged human being, and can only be healed by the love and compassion of many good hearted human beings. Hate fuels hate, love breeds love and healing. I have seen people heal from multiple tragedies, and I believe as time goes on, if we express love and concern, and particularly listen to those whose pain needs to be heard and understood they will heal. A nation, if not a world is affected by this violence, we need to listen to each other as we are all affected and troubled as a result of this unthinkable tragedy. We also need to spend more time trying to understand what is happening in our culture that makes young men turn into killers.
The Origin of Violence
In general, violence is a reaction to humiliation and abuse. If we rule out medical and physical causes, brain tumors and illnesses that distort reality, we are left with the learning that takes place in our homes and in our culture. Is the fact that we as a society are less empathic, less trusting of our fellow man a cause? Is the fact that our anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed in recent years a factor? Is our tendency to value image and status over character and relationships a factor? And is our unwillingness to establish more restrictive gun control a factor?
I suspect all of the above our contributors. I obviously don’t know what the contributing factors were in this killers’ life. We know from Columbine or other similar rampages that suffering humiliation is a key factor. It is likely a cause in this devastation as well.
What Can We Do?
We are not helpless. We can each do our part to lessen violence but promoting goodness. We must live with open hearts and open minds. We are a diverse society and becoming more so every day. Look upon diversity as an opportunity to learn about other lifestyles, other belief systems, and new ways of living a better life. We all have opportunities to model calm, thoughtful behavior when in conflict with another. We should all be brave enough to denounce the violation of human rights in all circumstances, small and large. Be a proponent of fairness, of truthful dialogue, and stay away from black and white thinking, and notice the gray between the lines for it is always there. View life as the mystery it is, don’t ever assume you have all the answers, and when you witness demeaning behavior don’t react in kind, but react with clarity and wisdom. Always remember the person with the greatest temper has the greatest insecurities. Bullies aren’t fearless they are fearful. When we know how to address a person’s fear without being threatening, fear often turns to hurt. Hurt can be worked with and worked through, whereas matching aggression with aggression perpetuates violence and resolution and learning never take place.
Access to Mental Health
In this age of managed care fewer people have access to mental health professionals. Insurances are more restrictive than ever in providing the mental health coverage many need desperately. Be an advocate of mental health services and when you notice unusual distress in another person suggest that he or she seek treatment, pursue mental health education, or at least schedule a consultation with a provide who can access whether or not treatment is warranted. Psychotherapy and education can help in very significant ways to heal the hurt that left untreated can lead to inappropriate behavior on many levels.
A note to Newtown Families
You have all suffered more than any human being should suffer in a hundred lifetimes. Please know we will pray for you and your lost love, we will not forget you, and know that millions across the world care about you. I only hope you can feel the love and faith many have in you, and in the thought that your lives will again seem worthwhile. You will always be in my and many others prayers.