A young woman goes to college. She comes from a decent home and family that has its issues like any family. She maybe has a genetic propensity for autism or bipolar or something that wasn’t quite caught because his parents were able to manage it with love, discipline and counseling from time to time. She was never really engaged in her faith, and whichever comes first, the usual college combination–skipping Mass, “partying” and collectively anti-Catholic ideology among professors and classmates–cause her to abandon the Church.
She meets a boy. He considers himself an atheist. They base their relationship on sexual attraction and what bands they like but say religious, philosophical and political matters are irrelevant to their relationship. They *might* discuss a bit of modern philosophy or New Age “mysticism,” and they might talk pop psychology. They start fornicating. Then they decide they “love” each other. They use contraception, unknowingly conceiving and aborting several babies. At one point, one of the babies escape all the “Plan B” mechanisms and manages to implant. Worried about her career, she has an abortion.
Then they decide that maybe they should get married. They “wait” to have children till they’re “ready.” They spent 10 years living for careers and vacations and things, having a relationship based on a self-centered “love.” Maybe they self medicate with booze or cigarettes or worse. Maybe they go to the professional drug dealers and get Prozac or Ritalin.
After a few years, they decide they’re “ready” to have kids. They have their boy and girl.
They say they’re going to raise their kids “open minded” and refuse to have them baptized. Maybe they expose them to bits and pieces of Islam, Buddhism, Wicca, any anything but Christianity.
Believing that children need lots of “stuff” to be happy, wanting their kids to have whatever they believe they were deprived, and believing that they have to limit themselves to 2 kids, so they want the most of the experience, they fill their kids’ lives with toys, video games, movies, etc. But they also fill their kids’ lives with workaholism and competitiveness: sports, scouting, fine arts, clubs, and lots and lots of homework.
Their son can’t keep up, and starts acting out. Quite often, the child in this all-too-familiar scenario is probably just stressed. “I don’t want to give him an MRI,” says the doctor. “That might have dangerous side effects, and it’s really expensive. Let’s see how he does on Ritalin first.”
So the kid goes on Ritalin. He’s on the equivalent of 2-4 cups of coffee a day. He focuses better at school and his many activities, but his schedule is still stressful with no time for true relaxation or recreation. He still needs to burn his energy, and he’s stimulating it chemically with a drug that produces rage as a side effect. So he starts bullying other kids. And he starts trying to channel his rage through video games and movies. Oh, and since he’s chemically stimulating his dopamine and endorphins, he loses his ability to feel satisfaction from oxytocin. He just starts craving more dopamine and endorphins, so more video games and more movies.
Now, if he was relatively neurotypical and just stressed, this would be bad enough. If he even legitimately had ADHD it would be bad enough. But what if he actually has something else, like bipolar? So the the effect of the stimulants is even worse.
They try different meds over the years, never actually doing medical tests to see if and what meds he needs, even though they have tests available that in many cases the DSM says to do first. Hundreds of dollars a month in prescriptions and doctor visits are so much more cost effective than a few thousand dollars at one time to actually find out what’s wrong.
Meanwhile, the daughter goes on similar spiral, but this, as Aslan might say, is not her story.
Meanwhile, the parents who didn’t put much thought into values before they married start to do so. They realize they have little in common. They rarely spend time together. Going off “the Pill” to have kids then going back on changed her hormonal reactions to him and vice versa. They’re burdened with stress of money, jobs, the kids’ demanding schedules and the kids’ mental and behavioral issues.
Maybe the mother decides to start taking the kids to church, and they fight about that.
There’s some anger and abuse. One or both commits adultery. They divorce.
Now the kids, as Maggie Gallagher documents in _Abolition of Marriage_, have lost their trust in relationships. They both come to think of marriage as something temporary and mutable. They have lost their one mooring in life.
The son starts expressing his anger at his Christian classmates, arguing all the time in favor of atheism, abortion, etc. The daughter becomes sexually active. The son starts using marijuana and other drugs. All those resume-building activities begin to implode: grades collapse; he starts dropping out of his activities. He spends most of his time watching violent movies and pornography and playing video games. All the activities meant to “build social skills” never taught him to make friends. His original genetic propensity, whether it’s for autism or schizophrenia or bipolar, is now largely irrelevant except that it’s compounding his lifetime of stress, betrayal, materialism, overstimulation, drugs, etc. He doesn’t know how to approach girls, and girls find him creepy.
His parents have tried to give him everything the world has to offer but they’ve deprived him of the most important things a human being needs: God and a stable family.
Depending on who reaches into his life at this point, and whatever his earlier issues, he grabs onto whatever sense of hope and acceptance he can find. We could go several ways from here, but this all-too-common story lends itself to several results.
But our particular instance is following the path to hate and violence.
He’s been inoculated against Christianity, of course, by his parents and by the schools. He’s been taught that Islam is a “religion of peace,” so he starts reading the Koran.
He’s been taught that socialism is a great thing and capitalism is bad, so he starts reading Marx.
He starts reading Hitler.
Eventually, the violence he imagines becomes reality. Maybe his mother has found true Faith in her middle age, and desperately tries to get him to come to church with her as she tries to atone for her younger lifestyle. Maybe he is interested in a girl who’s not interested in him. Maybe he’s had a girlfriend who recently broke up with him. Maybe he’s been taught by the media, the movies and the few books he’s read that Christians are the real enemy. Maybe he’s just filled with hate for all the institutions he’s come to mistrust.
Thousands upon thousands are in his situation. Many turn to suicide. Many turn to matricide or patricide. Many murder the girl they’re interested in.
Many join gangs and commit gang murders. Many just retreat into themselves and into the games and drugs, committing a slow suicide. Many live lives of abuse and fighting without actually killing. Many find Jesus and overcome the hate.
So what makes one person “snap”?
If any of these few circumstances could clearly explain why people commit mass murder, then it should happen far more often than it does. If guns are the reason, it should happen far more than it does. If guns are the reason, then there wouldn’t be suicide bombers and fertilizer bombs and madmen driving trucks through crowds.
If, as the Joker claims, all it takes is “one bad day” to make someone like him, why aren’t there?
There’s a movie called Conspiracy Theory where a guy says all notorious assassins owned the same book, and to the extent that it’s been reported, all the notorious mass murderers in the US in the past 20 or 30 years have had one thing in common: hatred of Christianity. Many of them have shouted or posted “Allahu Akbar.” Most of them seem to have some sort of admixture of Communist, Anarchist and Nazi leanings.
As long as a person has some faint fear of God, he’s going to have a line of conscience. Once we strip that line of conscience away from him, it doesn’t matter what tool he uses, he will find a way to kill as many people as possible before he kills himself. He might do it in the name of “The Revolution,” or “The Master Race,” or “Satan” or “Allah,” but he will do it. Should we put tougher restrictions on certain kinds of weapons? I don’t know. It seems to me the government should do a better job of enforcing the gun laws that are already on the books.
But to address the real problem is to address, across the board, the moral and spiritual rot of our society and requires each of us to look at our own responsibility, not for our political choices but for our moral ones.