Suffer the Children Once More
I had intended to post something this evening about “ironic reversal”, delving more into this strange trend of our times. But the day’s tragic events as reported from Newtown Connecticut — a kind of déjà vu all over again — have cast my intentions by the wayside.
Years ago, in the former Dark Age Blog, I posted a piece entitled “Suffer the Children.” It was a reflection on the massacre of Amish school children in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania on October 2, 2006 carried out by a very disturbed man named Charles Carl Roberts IV. It was very brutal. Perhaps some longtime readers of TDAB and The Chrysalis might even recall that post.
My unhappy conclusion was that Roberts’ slaughter of the innocents set a new precedent and a lower threshold for social displays of violence which was fated to recur again and again, as it has done between then and today. Any limiting conditions on public displays of violence are, as of today, gone. When children of kindergarten age can be slaughtered as they were today in Newtown, it is beside the point to say that the perpetrator, in this case Adam Lanza, was “developmentally impaired” or developmentally inhibited. For that is true of all mass murderers.
Our societies are now “developmentally impaired” in much the same way. I wince when I read or hear terms like “developed” and “undeveloped” nations, for in many ways they have become indistinguishable at “the end of history”. The demonic and debased rhetoric of “body counts” as a policy measure of “winning” a war is only invertedly mirrored in the mass murderer who attempts to achieve a higher score than his competitors, and a bigger return on his investment in the means and acts of violence. It is part and parcel of the general quantification of values and the confusion of wholes with totals and sums.
“As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel, 18:7).
Hallelujah! An “Army of One” and “Every Man a King” have been effectively synthesised into the form of the mass murderer on the one hand and the state or stateless warlord on the other. For the imagination of their hearts was violence continuously.
Those who live by the sword shall also perish by it. Those who glorify in violence, and find glory in violent or murderous acts, eventually succumb themselves to their own violent natures and imaginations. The proof is, that virtually all mass murderers also self-annihilate.
But beyond taking public action, the ultimate solution lies in each individual understanding that these shooters act out of the same anger, fear, and hopelessness that their violence evokes in us.
We cannot afford – as individuals or as a society – to keep mirroring their motivating angst.
The best antidote is to embrace the opposite of those thoughts and feelings. These include empathy, calmness, mercy, hope, and openness, all of which have as much substance to deter killings over time as do metal detectors in the moment.