Last night during Legion of Mary we covered a rather dry chapter from the handbook related to governance. Rather than focus solely on this chapter for the allocutio, I instead talked about a disturbing event that occurred yesterday morning, and the sorrow it stirs, along with my own gratitude for the community I have found in the Legion.
The reading tonight is very straightforward on Legion governance, and I would actually like to talk to you all about something a little different that has been weighing on my mind today.
Earlier today there was a double murder that was broadcast live on air. A man being referred to as a “disgruntled ex-employee,” who was in reality a deranged person with a history of bizarre behavior, opened fire on two former colleagues – an anchorwoman, who was 24, and her cameraman, who was 27, as they broadcast the news. In his suicide note, he claimed past racial discrimination by both. It is clear from reports coming out of his previous work places that he had a habit of harassing others, serious anger issues and claims of racial discrimination upon termination from multiple jobs. He was seriously disturbed.
Let’s face it, shootings happen all the time. They happen with relative frequency in public places. But never before, as far as I know, has a death occurred right there, live, in front of an audience. Not only was it captured by the now deceased camera man, it was filmed by the killer himself. After the killings, he took to his Twitter account to upload and share the video and justify his actions. This is a level of hubris and psychosis that I can’t even begin to understand.
So, where does this leave us? I was wondering as this story unfolded, what could have been done to prevent this man from doing what he did? Would a therapist have made a difference, or prescription drugs, or some time in prison? Some stories note that he was gay and claimed to be bullied for that, so perhaps he could have used some counseling on that issue alone, and maybe that would have made a difference. Regardless, he has taken his life, and we will never know.
The only thing I can think of here that would have made a difference is God. What would have this man’s life been like if he had a genuine, loving relationship with God – filled with the knowledge that he had value in God’s eyes, if not in the eyes of his peers? We cannot speculate with any accuracy or clarity, and it’s a bit of a useless game to even wonder, particularly as mental health is involved. I can’t help but feel that as our culture becomes more secular and more violent, the need for a relationship with God becomes that much more important. It becomes critical, for all of us, as the walls of isolation grow taller.
I am biased, and perhaps my inner church lady is coming out, but one of my first thoughts as I watched this unfold was, “I wish he had had a Legion!” I wish he had the family and love we have; the support and community that the Legion of Mary provides to all its members. I am so remarkably different than I was before I joined, and many of my rough and scarred edges have been smoothed. They continue to be. Or even if he were on the receiving end of Legion work, in a hospital, prison or in his home, what difference would one kind word have made? Maybe none. Perhaps it seems naïve to even entertain the thought. But I have faith in God, and little else, to change these kinds desperate of situations. As Catholics, we believe that no soul is beyond hope.
Were any of us to experience this tragedy, how would we cope? Both victims were in committed relationships with other employees at the news station. The camera man, Adam, was engaged to be married. His fiancée is now left behind with nothing but memories and questions. What kind of father would he have been? Where would they travel to? Where would they have lived? What was life going to look like? For the families and friends of these victims, they have a long road of grief ahead of them. For all of us, we know that the only way to walk it is with Christ by your side.
This is an unbelievable tragedy which will stay with this country for a long time. There is neither resolution nor peace to be found in this event. All we can do on the outside is to stay true to our faith in God for his timing and reasons, and be grateful for the loved ones we have in our lives. Take some time to call and reach out to the people you love, because we never know what tomorrow will bring. Should any of us ever personally experience something so viciously disturbing, I pray that we are able to truly live our faith and rely on God for strength. Let us end with a moment of silence for the victims and their loved ones.