a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
It’s visceral, not intellectual
The dust has not even settled from the massacre in Buffalo on May 14th – last week’s missive.
Now, Uvalde, Texas, and another school shooting (the 27th in 2022!). Tragically, it was an elementary school again this time. Nineteen third/fourth graders were gunned down and are dead. Two teachers were gunned down, and they are dead, too. Seventeen others were injured. Finally, the 18 year-old attacker was shot dead by police.
Most news reports say, “nineteen children and two adults” and “21 killed.” This excludes the shooter’s lost life. I still believe that Jesus weeps for twenty-two lives lost in Uvalde.
I know I do. It’s a visceral thing.
“He’d been bullied all his life,” a Uvalde woman said on the news.
How could that possibly explain this? And, yet, 87% of school shooters have a history of having been bullied.
As I write [Weds. afternoon, 5/25], we don’t know if there were any hateful-“isms” involved. Still, hate was surely involved. Perhaps not a ‘hating the other‘-ism, as in Buffalo. It could also have been self-hatred taking the form of a mass-murder/suicide-by-cop.
The tragedy of murder-suicide has a long history. It seems counter-intuitive that someone would want to take anyone along with them. I suppose a distraught person who wants to end their life might want to take their family along with them for various reasons; or, perhaps a final vengeance on an enemy. However, the idea of taking random others along in a mass murder event seems somewhat new. Mass-murder paired with suicide-by-cop feels very new.
The Uvalde shooter wore a tactical vest, but didn’t wear body armor, and that seems consistent with an anticipated suicide-by-cop outcome.
Ironically, “homicide—suicide” events (not mass-homicide—suicide) are frequently associated with police families, according to an International Journal of Emergency Mental Health article (abstract here).
Again, obviously, this is all speculation, because as I write, little is known about the shooter or why he may have done what he did.
It’s reported that the Uvalde shooter also shot his sixty-six year old grandmother. Did this set the rest in motion? It’s being reported that he posted an instant message on Facebook saying that he was going to shoot his grandmother. A bit later he posted again, saying that he had shot his grandmother. Finally, a third message that he was going to go shoot [up] an elementary school. That was perhaps fifteen minutes before his assault began at Robb Elementary School.
We’ll soon discover if the shooter had social media accounts that tell a story of some dark radicalization by one hateful-“ism” or another. What if there’s nothing there?
What underpins hate? Often, fear. However, . . .
For a host of reasons we’ve explored in the blog, American society is producing many broken people, most of whom resemble what we could fairly describe as narcissistic nihilists. Unfortunately, in our polarizing political climate, American nihilists appear to be particularly vulnerable to conspiracy theories and grievance ideologies.
Hate-filled-nihilists represent a difficult challenge to American society, because no matter the variety of hate in any given context, eighteen year-old nihilists are custom-made copycats. Even empty-nihilists may make good copycats.
So, “he was bullied all his life.” Could that trauma, nested in a bed of nihilism, create a hate copycat?
Nihilism makes everything senseless. Perhaps the Uvalde shooter had no typical hateful “ism” . . . only nihilism + trauma.
Sidebar: Contextual support (Scripture)
At times like this, I’m very grateful that I have spent a lifetime contemplating Bible stories. Stories like the one we find at (and around) Luke 13.4:
What about those 18 people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Do you think they were worse than everyone else in Jerusalem?
It provides me with familiar surroundings, a space in which I can contemplate the horrific loss of life in Uvalde last Tuesday.
- its nihilism; and,
- its toxic relationship with guns.
Next week: “Barney’s bullet” gun safety. [this post ~825 words (3 minute read)]