In tragedy there are deep painful questions. “Why?” “Who could do such a thing?” “Why did they have to die?” “Where did they go?”
26 people died Friday morning, December 14th, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. A young man killed his mother, then drove to his mother’s school, forced his way in, and shot and killed 26 people, 20 of whom were 1st-graders in the same class. They all had families who loved them. Neighbors, friends, teachers, students, boys and girls, men and women. Brothers and sisters. The pain of loss is unimaginable, and many are going to have quite dark holiday seasons indeed. And all this happened because of hatred and delusion. But now everyone has the same big question: what is this? why did this happen to us? where did those children go? It’s by sitting with big questions like these that we can really start to digest our suffering.
What is the antidote to hate? It’s always love. Gun control only solves the symptoms of the problem, which is that people choose to use violent weapons of destruction. The root cause of the problem is people have fear and hate. Some enjoy the sport of gunmanship, but in the hands of someone who has a completely delusional perception of reality, twisted with fear and hate, a gun becomes a tool for murder.
Many argue for stricter gun control, others argue for greater mental health funding. But let’s not argue. There is no “solution” that’s going to “fix” things so that this never happens again. That is why it feels like we’ve seen this movie playing before. Gun massacre, argument about how to “solve” the problem. We all have a wrenching feeling in our stomachs, and since no one wants to face it. We don’t want to face it, so we go off and try and get rid of it by trying to get legislation passed.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that. Don’t get me wrong, we most certainly need stricter gun control laws that target the kinds of extended magazines and automatic assault weapons that really have no place outside the military. And we definitely need to have well-funded mental healthcare initiatives so that the people who are sick enough to even consider killing another human being, due to delusion, or rage, or whatnot, get the help they need to prevent harm to themselves and others.
But we need to look at the root cause. Why do people kill other people? What are the processes people go through that lead them to pulling the trigger? I think one has to be really disconnected from reality to do something like the Newtown killings. But even to kill over money, or drugs, or love, it’s crazy. And what’s even more crazy is that human beings do this to each other all the time.
Really, it’s: Screw you, I want to be left alone. Obviously the only way to be left alone is to be alone, so I’m sorry, but you’re all gonna have to go. To Hell with you all! Bang, bang! Everyone’s dead. Ah, now it’s quiet. Okay, but I like Basketball, so I guess we’ll have to have the Knicks. The Knicks are going to have to have someone to play, so we’ll need the Lakers, and the Celtics. But that’s it! The Lakers, the Celtics, the Knicks and Laker girls and nobody else–okay fine, you can all come back. But don’t annoy me, or I’ll kill you!
That’s not clear. That is attachment thinking, wanting only for me. It is selfish desire devoid of compassion and love. You need both in life; compassion and love are like two wings of a dove. Love is the mechanism, and compassion is the direction. In Korean Zen it’s called dae ja, dae bi, which means, “great love, great sadness.” When you’re happy, I’m happy. When you’re sad, I’m sad. That’s it. Then, no need to take a gun and kill. Only love for all beings. That’s our human job. That’s correct function.
When people die, we have a funeral, and friends and loved ones come together to honor their spirit with tears, love, and laughter.