Since the Newtown shooting, there have been countless analyses about what Friday, December 14th was really about. There was the famous “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” blog post that got reposted, responded to, analyzed, obsessed over, praised and criticized (I’m in the latter camp, but this is not about that). There were countless other articles about mental illness in relation to the horrific event. There’s some discussion about genetic component responsible for Lanza’s violence. There’s been some truly bizarre commentary as well – like the article Dear Newtown: I will never forget your grace and kindness in the Toronto Star. There has been, thankfully, finally some serious discussion about gun laws in the U.S.
People need to explain things to themselves. It is only natural to want to find cause for effect. Logic is safe, chaos is not. With trying to find explanations we try to come up with ways to prevent future tragedies. But there really is no way to explain an event like the December 14 shooting. Okay, so maaaybe mental illness and, for sure, gun accessibility had a lot to do with it but even after eliminating factors like these, there remains the question of causation – how exactly does a person like Adam Lanza – get to the point where he commits a crime like this? What takes him from, let’s say, imagining the crime to actually committing it. Sure, the access to guns and the frivolity with which they are used in the States may actually minimize the real threat that they possess. And perhaps untreated mental illness may cause a person to draw illogical correlations, perceive threats and behave abnormally because of chemical instability (and things like nurture, circumstance). Maybe his mother was crazy and brainwashed him and maybe they miscalculated the end of the world date (it’s this Friday, December 21st). Maybe he had a parasite in his brain that ate his ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
What occurred to me immediately on December 14th, after I first heard of the shooting, and what I’m coming back to after days of reading all these various explanations and debates is that there is no good explanation. Or maybe that that explanation is that there is evil. I don’t know what that is, evil. It’s not an entity. It’s not Satan. But it’s some kind of a black-hole of a molecule that exists in our world, a gap in the Matrix, a 404, short-circuit, chaos and infinite stupidity of randomness. I’m not saying that Adam Lanza (or Hitler for that matter) is not responsible for what he has done. But because I absolutely cannot in my human, non-homicidal brain understand how Lanza got from point A (fantasy) to point B (carrying out the fantasy), I am coming back to chaos, I am coming back to evil: He was simply evil or there simply is evil.
I’m not finding comfort in this non-explanation either. As much as I want to. It’s the best I can do at the moment and it sucks. Pathetically, I’ve been sleeping on the floor beside my son’s crib for weeks now (prior to December 14th), the only place where my mind is able to shut up about all the unspeakable, unpredictable things that happen in the world. Pathetically, because sleeping on the floor and being completely sore the day after gives me the illusion that I am protecting my son from evil. Since December 14th my mind is chattering constantly and nothing makes sense. I sleep beside my son’s bed holding his hand, I wake up sore and terrified. I put on a happy face for him and go pour him some cornflakes.