This is not intended to be a post about gun control, religion, mental illness, video games, or violent television. It’s only tangentially about Asperger’s, in the sense that it is my reaction to a horrible event, and I have Asperger’s, so that will frame my reaction to it. I am also a Christian, so that will also frame my reaction.
This morning, in a small town in Connecticut, United States, as many as 20 children went to school today and didn’t come home. Six adults went to work this morning and didn’t come home. Someone took a gun, went to a school, and shot them — 20 children and six (or seven; the numbers keep changing) adults.
No one knows why. There is speculation, of course. Some people blame gun laws in the United States. Some blame violent video games or violent television. Some blame religion, or lack of it. Some may even blame autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. But the fact is, no one knows, and probably no one will ever know. There’s a line from a song that goes, “They can see no reasons, because there are no reasons.”
We don’t know whether stricter gun laws would have prevented this. We don’t know if the shooter had a mental illness. We don’t know whether or not he played video games or watched violent shows on TV.
When I hear about things like this, my first reaction is generally disbelief. I literally cannot wrap my mind around it. While I know intellectually that it happened, I just can’t comprehend that 20-some people were shot and killed by one person, and that most of them were children, and that these children had parents who sent them to school this morning as they do most mornings, with no worries that someone was going to go into the school and shoot them, and that all of the victims no doubt had loved ones waiting for them to come home from school or work as they do any other day, and now they won’t be coming home, ever.
I don’t have an overtly emotional reaction to news stories like this. Some people might say that this makes me unfeeling. But the fact is that I knew none of these people. I am not a parent, so I do not know what it feels like to be a parent who loses a child in this way or any other way. I am sad in the sense that I know that this is extremely painful for people, whether they are the survivors of the shooting, the loved ones of the dead people, or the emergency responders (many of whom probably have children themselves) who had to deal with so many dead children. I feel sorry for these people, but I do not feel any personal connection.
What I usually do when I hear stories about events like these is hug my cats. If I had human children, I’d probably want to hug them. But I don’t, so I hug my cats. Sometimes I listen to music. Often song lyrics come to mind, like the quote from “I Don’t Like Mondays,” or Mr. Mister’s song “Kyrie Eleison.”
Sometimes I post pictures or funny stories on Facebook just to take my mind away from the bad thing. I don’t think there is anything wrong with laughing at a joke or looking at a cute cat picture after a tragedy.
And I pray. I always pray. I pray for the people who lost loved ones, including the family of the shooter, because he is dead, too, and he probably had loved ones, regardless of what he did. It is not their fault. I pray for the people who survived and are now traumatized. I pray for the people who responded to the school and had to witness the aftermath, and for those who are tasked with investigating the shooting.
I have long identified with the character of Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This what Anya has to say about death, after Joyce, Buffy’s mother, dies:
“But I don’t understand. I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she can’t just get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid, and, and Xander crying and not talking, and I was having fruit punch and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever. And she’ll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever and no one will explain to me why.”
I think that is a very Aspie reaction.
Let’s not fight about guns or religion or video games or anything else. Let’s just acknowledge that a bad thing happened, and we don’t know why. I know that people will try to find reasons, because we want to know why. We think that if we know why, then maybe we can stop it from happening again. But let’s leave that up to whoever is investigating the shooting, and let’s not try to explain something that we will probably never, ever understand.