Monday Morning Water Cooler Talk for July 30, 2012

The Art of Stealing Innocence

James Holmes. There you go. That is his name. That was the last time you will read it in this article and it should be the last time you hear or see it, period, but it won’t.  It will be in our collective consciousness for years. It will be drawn out through the media and our daily discussions. And why not?

He is a monster. Our worst nightmare, come true.  He is what every parent and person dreads – uncontrollable violence unleashed on an unsuspecting public. The horror and grimness of the social outcast who never fit in and whose own fantasy life was greater than his reality.

Like the other coward/assassins from Columbine, Virginia Tech and other places of infamy , these individuals prey on the unaware and unarmed and play the role of the villain/hero. They live their dreams at the expense of others.

Their malice and revenge are focused on people they often do not know – men, women and children who have never caused them any harm.  But, their perceived slight is too great. Their seething hatred of humanity is unparalleled. They hate who and what they don’t know just because they love to hate.

In their mind, they have been cheated of their glory. They have been cheated out of what is rightfully theirs. They see themselves as some kind of hero who will make their own lives right – the so-called villain/hero of their own mind.

And what is disturbing, is that it is only getting worse. Over the past 30 years, law enforcement has been faced with the growing crisis of the angry man bent on fixing his perceived slight.  The McDonald’s Massacre of 1984 in San Diego was an eye opener to everyone in law enforcement.

This was about a predator going to a place of innocence and hunting and killing the object of his scorn: humanity.  This was the random slaughter of the innocent to make up for the killer’s own lack of courage and self-respect.  It was about the lust for power, when one has been powerless for a life time.

Each time, the villain/hero justifies his act by telling himself that he has been treated badly and that society doesn’t deserve justice. It deserves shame, scorn and death equal to the injustice he has suffered.  Society needs to feel the wrath and worthlessness that the predator feels in his soul every day.

In short, society needs to suffer. It needs to bleed and, in the villain/hero’s mind, he will be the one to do it. He will be the one to carry out the heroic deed of making society suffer, even if he has to play the role of the villain. He will even the score for the down-trodden.

And yes, he knows he will be famous. And fame is the great equalizer – the one common denominator that brings evil and good together. Hitler and Gandhi have the same name recognition, the same fame level, with Hitler having the edge in History Channel coverage. All in all, being evil has never been a deterrent to being famous.

 And therein lays a fundamental problem: even psychopaths understand what makes good media. They understand it better than everyone because their life is one continuous media phenomenon. They dream that they are in a movie that is greater than their own life.

It is not surprising to hear that any villain/hero has spent months or years planning an attack. It is their life. It is their one moment of glory that they so richly deserve. Whether they end up dead or alive after the attack is irrelevant.

What matters is that someone needs to pay for the sins of humanity; pay for the villain/hero’s sorry and loathsome existence. Someone must be sacrificed.

But, what causes the villain/hero to exist? Meagan O’ Nan, award-winning spiritual writer and life coach, states, “In our society today (and throughout the years) we haven’t been taught how to appropriately cope with our emotions or how to live a life that one can be proud of. Incidents like the one in Colorado this past week are an outcry from our culture to do something for our children of today. Teach them that they have something to give the world, that what they give matters and that their purpose in life is meant to be meaningful and full. It’s not okay any more to stand by and ignore what we need to address. It starts by taking charge of your life and taking responsibility for your mistakes and finding a healthy way to move forward, so that the generations behind us can see what working through the tough parts of life looks like.”

Without this fundamental piece in place, our society will continue to create our own Frankenstein monsters.  Men who feel it is their duty to bring society to its knees and right the wrongs that have been afflicted on them without ever looking at their own inner being.

O’ Nan continued, “We never really know someone’s story – not by looking at them and not by having a few conversations with them; at least not typically. The incident in Colorado shows us that we never really know what is going on with someone and that profiling someone based on who we think they are isn’t always correct. It’s most important, especially during daunting moments such as this, to take a look at your own life and figure how you can do better and be a better person in every way. Living in fear isn’t the answer…finding a way to live in faith again, is.”

Over the next several months, everything from gun control to the American justice system to mental health will be discussed.  There will be no easy answers and most of what we will hear about this case in the first week will be wrong.

But here we stand in our own humanity, wondering what type of people live in our world today. Can we go to school, get a hamburger or even go to the movies?

Here we stand; knowing that on one summer night someone who thought he was the Joker just murdered people at a Batman movie. The villain/hero greatest revenge is stolen innocence and death to those who made him feel so very small.

Even if his victims were not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Joseph B. St. John

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