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.