Shootings and Shame – what is the connection?

A gunman opened up on a movie theater in Colorado recently.  These shootings happen on a regular basis. Is there any common thread?

Earlier this year T. J. Lane walked into a high school and started shooting. We know that T. J. Lane‘s parents were divorced and he lived with his grandparents. We also know that his father was arrested for attempted murder a few years back and served four years in jail. And we know from T. J.’s acquaintances that he was a sensitive person, someone that wanted to engage with others but failed in his attempts.  His shooting was not random. He targeted some boys that had made fun of him.

Shootings and Shame

This is what I call in my book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past, the pain of shame.  We all know it to some degree. We all experience the pain of falling short of our expectations or the expectations of others and we are  familiar with our attempts to prove to others our value.  T.J. knew the pain of shame intimately but didn’t have the coping skills or restraints to keep him from striking back.  Plus, in striking back he made a name for himself…something that he desperately wanted.

Katherine Newman, makes this insightful observation in her recent article, “Why We Miss School Shooting Warnings” (attached)…

High school shooters are rarely loners. They are “failed joiners.” The difference is important. A loner absents himself from social contact and withdraws from the world around him. Shooters are engaged, but not successful. They reach out to cliques, only to be rebuffed. Their daily social experience is of rejection and frustration, not isolation.

Whenever I see this kind of traumatic event I personalize it. I say, “So, how am I striking out to hurt those that don’t accept me?”.  It’s easy to watch the news reports about someone else’s meltdown. It’s much harder to look in the mirror and do something about the pain inside ourselves that causes pain in others.

Question: How do you strike out to hurt people that don’t accept you? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Shootings and Shame – what is the connection?

  1. Lisa

    I appreciate your thoughts, it’s helping to connect some dots here….When I’m feeling sidelined, marginalized, or even given the impression that I’m a waste of “humaness” I will respond with yelling, get in peoples’ face, and beat a dead horse-making them regret dismissing me. It’s worse when I’m tired. It works to my disadvantage b/c I’d rather operate with respect than more disrespect. God put me here with purpose whether people approve of me or not. I know I’m not a waste of humaness. What I don’t like, is “being made” -force in a way- to feel that way by another’s actions toward me. Based on your experience, what is a good way to communicate “I don’t like being marginalized” without the drama?

    1. F. Remy Diederich

      I’m glad you are asking the question. I think you just offered a better way to communicate without the drama. You simply tell someone that you don’t like being marginalized. That might seem simplistic…especially when you are used to ranting. But really…that’s all it takes. The first step is to communicate that you don’t like it. If that doesn’t get the reaction you want then you offer a consequence…i.e. If you continue to marginalize me then (fill in the blank). For example, then…I can’t take this relationship seriously. Then…I’ll keep a safe distance from you. You lay down a boundary with a consequence and let those two things do the work for you vs. the drama. Search for my posts on boundaries for more help on this. Good question.

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