Thoughts on a tragedy

I had a different blog post planned for tonight; one that talked about Ryan Holiday and his new book, “Trust Me; I’m Lying.”

That blog post will have to wait.

Instead, all over the country people are trying to dissect and make sense of the massacre that took place last night in Colorado.

But of course, there is no way to make sense of it.  Not really.

There are those who are saying that tragedies like this are why we should all be armed; that if someone else had a gun on them in that movie theater, they could have killed the gunman and saved lives.  Or, in the dark, confusion & chaos, they could have killed another innocent person, not shot the gunman – who was wearing full body armor – and been killed themselves.  Which seems to me a more likely scenario.

The way out of violence is not with more violence.

James Holmes, the 24 year old shooter, is being described as quiet & an honors student.   An honors graduate.  A focused student.  Lots and lots of emphasis on his academic success.

As though somehow that should have made the difference.

As though somehow that makes it all the more shocking.

My friend Michael Ellsberg wrote a long and thoughtful post on Facebook today about the demons that Holmes must have been dealing with  – unbeknownst to those around him – and that finally won.   Instead of more violence or more guns, Michael called for healing and empathy.

And ultimately, he is right.

For my part, I can’t help but wonder what kind of home life James Holmes had as a kid?  Even if his family was “normal” – by which I mean no physical abuse or other extreme situations – could he have been under enormous pressure to do well academically?   Could his recent dropping out have meant he realized that all his academic efforts were in pursuit of a life he didn’t really want?

I have no evidence in support of this other than repeated references to his academic inclinations and am not about to blame his mother or family for this tragedy – the hell they are going through right now is punishment enough I’m sure.   Parents, for the most part, mean well.   No one consciously tries to screw up their kids, and often they are unaware of the damage they do.  Perhaps James put the pressure on himself in order to mask other things he was feeling.

We might never know why he did what he did.  He might not know himself.

Moving forward all I can say to parents is that loving your kid is not enough.  We all (hopefully) love our kids.  You also need to treat them as humans, stop trying to control them and honor that their passions may not mirror your own.  Support them in their path and listen to their troubles.   Trust them.

If every parent did that, would tragedies such as this one be prevented?

I wish I had the answer to that.   The best I can do is hope.



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