A friend of a friend on Facebook said “It’s an unexplainable and senseless act of violence” in regards to yet another massacre. I really detest that sentiment. My response was this:
No, it is explainable. We just don’t have the explanation in front of us. Saying that it’s unexplainable means we’re washing our hands of ever finding that explanation and any hope of preventing a repeat. This is not just a side effect of living in our society. This can be stopped. This doesn’t need to happen again.
We don’t know what happened in the mind of the shooter. 150 years ago we didn’t know what an electron was. Our knowledge of concussions and repeated brain injury has increased by leaps and bounds in just the past four years. Everything has an explanation. We need to find it.
We need to understand and be able to avoid these tragedies from occurring.
One of the first things we can do is to stop dehumanizing the people who commit these acts. At the point where you are ready to walk into a school or a mall or a theater or a place of worship or restaurant (to name just a few of the locations that spree-killings took place in America in 2012), you have ceased to be a rational person. Something has broken very deep inside you. Unfortunately, we rarely get the chance to analyze these people because most of them take their own lives in the process. There’s a big leap between becoming so filled with despair that you end your own life, and deciding to take as many people with you as possible. These must be two different things. One way or another, though, viewing these people as any less than human is rather medieval thinking. Dehumanizing them allows us to place the blame for their actions solely on their shoulders, completely absolving and ignoring whatever treatable and preventable cause pushed them to that point. When we do that, we simply ensure that tragedies like this will continue to happen.
Adam Lanza was a person. Something inside him went terribly, terribly wrong. Let’s not forget that he was a person. A beautiful, unique individual with people who loved him, who are now wrapped up in the horrifying hell of being connected to what he did. We need sympathy and compassion for everyone.