I don’t understand it. Do you?
I’ve spent my entire professional career, over three decades, trying very hard to understand people. To listen to their concerns. To hear their fears. To share their joys and accomplishments. To listen to their stories.
I like most of my patients, very much. I love listening to their narratives. I love the fact that they trust me enough to share intimate details of their lives.
Many times they ask me, “Have you ever heard anything like this before?” “Have you ever seen anybody as sick or crazy as me?” “Does this shock you?”
I just smile and reassure them that there is very little in this world that shocks me any more. I’ve heard it all, as many psychiatrists and other physicians have. It’s part of the toil and heavy responsibility and awesome privilege of this vocation we’ve chosen.
One thing, though, continues to shake me to my very core.
I don’t understand it.
We humans take it upon ourselves to judge, hate, and kill each other.
The catastrophic shooting in Charleston, SC, a city I love and plan to visit again very soon, is just one in an ever-lengthening string of blatantly heinous crimes committed by individuals who take it upon themselves, for what ever reason, to decide the fate of one, two, a dozen, hundreds, or even thousands of innocent people.
It hurts me personally, as I know it does you. It hurts me to know that I have spent years trying to help people, to make the world just a tiny bit better than it was when I got here, only to see that someone with a grudge and a gun can swiftly snuff out lives, hopes, and dreams.
It hurts me as a healer. It hurts me as a man. It hurts me as a human being.
This twenty one year old killer will be caught. We’ll hear many many details of his life, his story, his motivations. Many will mourn. Many will pontificate. Many will try to analyze. Many will use this event to further fan the flames of a destructive fire that will not die in this country.
Will we ever learn?
When evil incarnate can walk about unchallenged even in the Holy City, a lovely, serene, genteel place, and rip the fabric of civility and harmony like the temple curtain, can we dare to hope that we’ll ever get past our flawed nature and survive?
May those whose lives have been forever changed in Charleston and countless places like it find the peace that they, that we as a human race, deserve.