By Andrew L. Pate, Jr., ThD.
Notoriety. Fame. To be the center of attention, worldwide if possible : these are the goals of all mass killers and their wannabe- imitators. Without exception, every mass killer has suffered from not being recognized vocationally, sexually, or in their other social relationships, and each has suffered from great mental and emotional pain. In short, everyone has been a very sick individual.
And “sick” is the right word. Healthy people find acceptable, fulfilling ways to have their needs for recognition satisfied, at least partially if not wholly.
So, we are compelled to ask, Why do we promote these illnesses, one after another, by giving them our undivided attention for days without end, through the media as well as in our daily conversations with one another?
The first and most obvious answer is that we promote these horrendous events because we believe the mass killers are the real newsmakers and because we believe we cannot afford to leave their horrors unadvertised.
Also, we promote mass killings in excess out of fear. We are afraid that we or our loved ones could be the next victims. Mistakenly, we reason that by centering public attention on the murderers, that possibility will be lessened, if not entirely eliminated. In fact, however, our widespread public attention implants the idea of "killing one's self and others" in the minds of sickos far and near.
Despite our best intentions and gross attention to the mass killings, they have continued, and even appear to be on the increase.
Another underlying factor that has contributed to the spate of mass killings, like the one that took the lives of 21 persons in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022, has to be the fact that at a critical point in his illness the killer began to think he could at least go out “in a blaze of glory.”
Is not such thinking the epitome of an extremely ill person, of one who has made the life-denying final decision to risk his life in order to take that of several others he also thinks, are as unworthy as he?
Gun owners are partly correct; it is not the gun that does this madness; it is the extremely ill individual, who, in reality, has given up on himself. But gun owners are wholly wrong in their refusal to acknowledge their role in creating a climate of violence in our society. Guns kill, the main reason for their creation and ownership.
Would it not be much better if our constitution underscored, first and last, the value of our doing good for others, as attested to in WWII by Anne Frank. Without a doubt, that constitution would declare in an exceptionally profound fashion that the Big News of Every Day ought to be the Good that Americans have done.
Can we change that? Make the news what it ought to be? Maybe. Maybe not.
But there’s no doubt in my mind: We must.