I want to touch on what Brilliant Orange wrote here, especially this:
the simplest truth, that a schizophrenic killed people for no reason, may be the most difficult thing for everyone to accept
That’s a big thing. It’s human nature to blame, to look for a reason. We blame each other, we blame God, we blame fate and nature and laws or lack of laws. Our first reaction when something terrible happens is, who can we blame for this.
I remember a few years ago a story about a young girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered. When it was found out that the person who committed these terrible crimes against her was her ex boyfriend a coworker said “Thank God.” She explained that it was easier to know that this girl was not killed randomly, that she didn’t have to think there was some lunatic on the loose and hide her children in the basement. My coworker was thankful she had someone to blame because without someone to blame, it could be anyone.
I think that was part of what was at work yesterday. A guy walks up to a crowd at a supermarket and starts firing. You look for a reason. You look to blame. Because the thought of someone doing this for no reason, out of nowhere means that you have to realize there is the possibility that anywhere out there, in any town in any city in any state, there is the potential for some person with a serious, unchecked mental disease to go out and start murdering innocent people.
Political parties and politicians you hate are easy targets. By blaming them, we get to unleash some of the rage we feel toward them. We get to project our feelings about their agendas on to a situation where blame is needed. We get to vent our feelings about them, release the anger we have been building up about them. The things we feel about them are truth. Nobody who blamed anyone yesterday was lying when they expressed their feelings. All those feelings were real and true and honest.
We blame because we have to. Because without blame, there is no reason and without reason there is no sense.
Earlier this week, a local boy, a 17 year old high school kid, died in a car accident. I have a 17 year old son. I put myself in the place of this boy’s mother, trying to imagine her grief and sorrow. I thought about my son driving, maybe to school or work, and something so random like someone blowing a stop sign, putting my child in the wrong place at the wrong time, could kill him. Then I found out the young man was driving at about three times the speed limit on an icy road, and that he’d already had two accidents that were his fault in the short time he’d had his drivers license. I could lay the blame on the dead boy. This wasn’t some random, fateful, wrong place, wrong time thing. In a way I feel awful for admitting the relief I felt that he had no one but himself to blame. I don’t know if that makes me a bad person, but it probably is what makes me human. I deal better with absolutes than with randomness.
We need to make sense of things. We need reasons. We need blame. The fact that Jared Loughner may have had no political affiliation, that he may not have been working in concert with the political agenda of any one party, that he was just a mentally unstable young man suffering from delusions, well, there’s no sense in that. It’s too random. It’s too blameless.
You read a little bit about the nine year old girl who died yesterday, about the retirees who were there to maybe ask a few questions about health care and ended up dead and it makes no sense at all.
Blame has a way of tying things together in a nice little package. But sometimes we have to deal with the fact that life hands us packages that are not so neat, not so gift wrapped and put together. We are left to make sense of them. And sometimes, you just can’t.