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Who Was He?


Like so many others, I’m trying to make sense of the world we are living in right now.  In truth, I’m quite sure that modern civilized humans have never lived in less violent times than today.  But in reality, the horrific acts of killing that are taking place make the world feel like it’s brimming with violence.

With every new massacre of innocent people I sit down and write notes of my thoughts to attempt to make sense of it.  Endless notes, with no clear direction.  These notes are full of questions.  It seems like so many people think they have the answers to it all– but do we?  All those things you think in your own head, are they correct?

I think if there is an absolute truth out there, it is that humans are immensely complex and beautifully simple all at once.  We all need the same basic things:  Food, water, sun, love, and community.  If we are missing even one of these things, then we fall out of balance, right?

Could the answer be somewhere in there?




We say we want to know why, but do we ask the right questions?


Was he angry?

Was he sad?

Was he suicidal?

Where did he come from?  A war-torn country?  A country of dictatorial oppression?

Was he abused as a child?  Was he met with anger and hatred each day of his young life, as so many thousands of children are in this world?

Did he grow up looking for answers as to why life is so painful?

Was he looking for something to embrace and be embraced by?

Or perhaps, was he genuinely mentally ill?

His mind taken over by the quirks and abnormalities which plague the fragile human brain.

We sometimes forget just how fragile the piece of meat within our skulls truly is, and how easily it can become afflicted with things we haven’t yet begun to fully understand.

If so, did anyone identify that illness?

Did he have access to the medications which could help him?

Perhaps he suffered severe mental illness that was overlooked until it was too late.

Or, perhaps he fell into a depression so deep that it transformed into anger and hatred– a different kind of mental illness altogether.

And what of the groups that find these vulnerable young men and “brainwash” them?

What of those men?

Are they evil?

Or perhaps not?

Could it be that those individuals have lived lives of oppression and bullying and senseless killings by their Western counterparts of their own people for so long that they have decided to move forward with violence in any way they can?

Are we all ultimately afraid of the truth?  Are we afraid that in asking these questions we will retrieve a seed-path of answers which lead to a silo on our own soil?  One filled not with grain but with guns?

It is taboo to even suppose that there could be greater, more expansive and far-reaching reasons to the ill that spreads across our globe today.  We are not supposed to look inward, at the actions of our own people, as possible causes of such horrific acts.  No, we say, one cannot possibly lead to another.

We are not supposed to question the unquestionable.

What we do not wish to see, what we cannot seem to reconcile, is that all actions are a domino effect.  Every tiny thing we do affects our collective futures.  Even the smallest of actions can have effects on a massive scale in a brief amount of time.

It is easy to gather and band together against acts of violence that are so extreme and so blatantly cruel.

It is not easy to say, “But what brought this man to this moment?  Truly?”

It is not easy to lift the thin veil that covers the intricate framework of modern civilization which was built upon the backs of multitudes of humans in order to get to where we are today.

But that’s another story.

It’s all interconnected.  Yet we can only deal with so much at once, right?

What do you think?



“Burnt Out” Photograph by Tara Tona, 2006



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