“I’m going to kill you”
When we had differences as children we often uttered these words because they evoked for the speaker the basest emotions that we sometimes feel as humans – anger. For the recipient, it summons a very different reaction but it is a feeling that is just as raw and uncontrolled – fear. I remember uttering these words whenever one of my siblings did or said something to really put me on edge. I also remember feeling the savage nature of fear when I was confronted by something or someone in or which caused anxiety, distress or terror in me.
Both of these emotions are hard to tame. I have struggled with anger my entire life. I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost the respect of loved ones and I have done and said some utterly and ridiculously stupid things because of my inability to control my rage. Thankfully, old age, young children, a patient wife and a lot of heartache have given me cause to slow my wrath and soften my stance. Fear on the other hand is still very much a part of my life although the fear that I experience on a daily basis is the fear I have for my family; fears of economic disaster; fears of losing one of my sons.
I can recall a time in my life, because of my uncontrollable rage, when I literally felt the urge to hurt someone. I am very grateful that during those times when I felt so much wild and overwhelming violence erupting in my mind, that there was a cautious pinhole of light that pierced through that indignation enough to strike fear in my heart. What if I did hurt someone, what then? What if, in my anger I cause someone enough bodily harm that it becomes fatal, then what? The answers all lead to this – once you have said or done something to harm someone else you can never take it back. When you take a life, their death will always be on your hands.
Some people say, ‘Well he had it coming to him,’ or ‘He deserved what happened to him,’ and perhaps it is true but what about the innocent? Did 12 people enjoying a movie and minding their own business deserve to die because some guy decided that he wanted to make a statement? Is anyone justified in shooting their own children when problems arise in a marriage or a relationship? Why has it become so acceptable for people who are distraught over some life altering situation, to take the lives of family members before taking their own life? What purpose does it serve except to show the rest of the world how selfish and irresponsible and infantile the accused persons actions are?
Is my reluctance to resort to the finality of murder to solve my problems a result of the way I was raised or is my fear of public recrimination, jail time and a sordid legacy for my family a more likely deterrent? Regardless, I just can’t imagine, even with my personal demons, taking the life of an innocent person who has done no wrong which is what perplexes me most about the current state of the world. Is our collective moral GPS as a people so broken and out of whack that our society no longer places the same value on a human life as we once did?
Yes, I agree that there has always been cruelty in the world since the beginning of Biblical times but we are also (I believe) much more advanced, cultured and educated enough to know that resorting to murder and violence is less appealing to us as a society. Or are we? When we hear about the atrocities that are being committed by Mexican drug cartels or the unrest in places such as Darfur or Nigeria that has resulted in innocent deaths we are appalled, but not nearly as shocked as the deaths of innocents at the hands of their own loved ones. It is a somber and wretched truth that has become all common in our world today.
What can we do as a people to curb the desire to settle our domestic disputes through violence?