Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Killing Amish schoolgirls

Charles Carl Roberts is an enigma. The milk truck driver, up until yesterday a law-abiding man, devoted husband and father, and apparently all-round nice guy, invaded an Amish schoolhouse and executed the schoolgirls. Few are expected to survive.

Police are scrambling to determine a motive. He did leave suicide notes, apparently outlining a 20-year old desire to molest girls and an anger with God. Police also speculate that the latter was fueled by the death of a newborn daughter in 1997. Evidence of the former comes from his suicide notes and the sexual lubricant he brought with him to the school siege, but which he apparently had no time to use.

There were virtually no advance warning signs, only a shift in moods reported by coworkers.
Roberts' co-workers said his mood had darkened in recent weeks, but suddenly brightened over the weekend, [State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B.] Miller said.

"A few days before the shooting a weight was lifted," Miller said Tuesday.
I am struck how easy it is to not know the people we work and even live with. There are things under the surface that can be incredibly powerful - for good or for evil - and yet remain completely hidden. Evil things in particular grow better in the dark. Most of the deranged killers in recent memory have been loners or very quiet men, turned in on themselves, or at the very least, keeping locked rooms in their souls that no one else was allowed to enter.

So what can be done about it? We can't exactly start reporting our coworkers to police every time they fall into inexplicable funks. Perhaps we need to be more sensitive to the people around us and probe gently if they make strange, uncharacteristic remarks. I've been guilty in the past of timidly backing away from topics that might get weird or messy. Maybe I shouldn't. Sunlight and fresh air are great disinfectants.

But our first responsibility remains ourselves. What are we nurturing in our own hidden rooms? It might never erupt in the spectacular evil of the Nickel Mines schoolhouse, but we could very well spray the acid of our bitterness, or the putrid stench of our sick obsessions on the people around us, wounding them or - even worse - encouraging their own evils. It is perhaps time to go talk to a friend, a pastor or priest, or a help line and let the air in.

Maybe if only one person confronts his own evils as a result of this slaughter, those little Amish schoolgirls will not have died in vain.

In the meanwhile, my heart and prayers go out to the families of both the victims and the killer.

[Correction] The references to molestations in the past that CCR claims to have done were made in a phone call to his wife during the siege.

[Update] See here for the reaction of the Amish.

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1 comment:

Oberon said...

......the art of peace is medicine for a sick world.......morihei ueshiba.


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