This is a pictureless post, because the images of terror that we see, every time a self-appointed social regulator takes to the streets or buildings, to kill and maim innocent people, are vivid enough. I leave it to qualified psychiatrists to judge whether a miscreant is psychotic.
When I was in graduate school, one of our professors gave a lecture on “Neurotic Means to Power”. The usual suspects, from Napoleon to Nixon, were examined briefly, but the crux of her message was that a neurotic person seeks power at various levels of the social structure. Friendships, families, work relationships, and politics are all subject to the neurotic in search of meaning in his/her life. Most likely, we all have a need to influence the behavior of those around us, so as to ensure personal safety. Neurosis kicks in, however, when a person’s identity depends on the number of people who listen and obey one’s dictates and demands, as well as the extent to which those people listen and obey.
Some obedience is necessary to the survival of the obedient. Laws are sent to us by God, the Creator, the Universe, Unknowable Essence, Great Wave of Energy, or whatever you wish to call That which put us here. We follow along, willingly or not, because the alternative, chaos, is way out of most people’s comfort zones. Children obey their parents and other adults, because they only have their own will power to guide them, otherwise, and it gets sketchy not having all the answers. Most people obey the police and courts, because without a system, it could be they who are hurt or killed next.
Those who know me know that I am a law-abiding person. I’ve never been arrested, and have paid willingly for the occasional excesses of my right foot, when behind the wheel. I have never, and won’t, however, kowtow to those who insert themselves into my affairs, with no more authority than “This is how I expect you to act.”
Back to the shooting in Aurora. James Holmes, as far as we know, acted alone. That makes him the same as the shooter at Virginia Tech, Andrew Kunanan and Ted Bundy. He could not dominate or control those with whom he was intimate, if indeed there were any such people, so he chose to thrash and flail at strangers. We don’t know if he had been bullied as a child, spanked on his birthday or spurned by a woman. We do know however that two wrongs don’t make a right, two stupids don’t make a smart, fourteen deaths don’t make a life.
What does neurotic seeking of power get a person, in the end? My guess is that it earns the person a label of toxic, among his/her peers. It earns annoyance, followed by anger, followed by avoidance and isolation. These may or may not lead the power-seeker to lash out in further anger- at self or at others.
James Holmes ended up controlling no one. The historical figures cited by my professor, except for Nixon, ended their lives in defeat and disgrace. My final point is this: There is a system, throughout the Universe, which follows the laws of physics and their subordinate man-made laws. This system is understood by most, and all are subject to it. This system makes no provision for those without authority to dictate, demand, cajole, ridicule or browbeat those around them into submission.
When someone who is not my mother, family elder, work supervisor or officer of the legal system tells me “You will!”, that’s when I won’t- unless it makes sense to ME. When that same person says “You can’t”, that’s when I will- if it would benefit me or others.
The lesson of the film which James Holmes disrupted is that ad hoc, casual, unsanctioned exercise of authority will never succeed, in the end, because the human spirit is answerable only to the Higher Power. This applies equally to the power usurper with arms and ammunition, and to those whose weapon is their tongue.