the UCSB shootings and a call for compassion

last night a young man attending the University of California at Santa Barbara shot and killed seven people and then himself

described as a highly functioning person with asperger syndrome, elliot felt lonely. he counted few people as friends and, at the age of twenty-two, never kissed a girl. he claimed women looked down on him as an inferior male. he wrote endlessly about hating the women who hated him, about crushing isolation, about ever pervading loneliness and the widening absence of love.

in a video he shot moments before opening fire, elliot spoke into the camera, saying:

“College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it.”

i hurt for this young man, his family, and all the victims of the shooting. as a society, blaming the perpetrator is easy. he took innocent lives. he ruined the futures of several. he acted out of spite, malice, and cold blooded hatred. yet, regardless of these atrocities, this man is still just that: a human individual.

the first i heard about this event was on facebook, via a young woman i know who goes to college in santa barbara. she wrote a beautiful and poignant status about showing love to all people in order to prevent such shootings, such loneliness, such pain. and oh, how i agree.

kindness can easily be forgotten in our day to day lives. we get busy. we get hurried. we rush, get frustrated. we want life to flow smoothly in the order we perceive it should move. in the absence of mindfulness, perhaps we share a nasty word. perhaps we act out an unkind gesture. maybe we meet a person who pisses us off. everything about him — his hair, his smile, his tone of voice — every single iota of his being burns a hole of hatred within us. silently or outwardly, we radiate hate.

what we forget in these moments of hatred though is that person’s humanness. we forget that person’s need for kindness, love, and compassion, just like our own need. we forget how each being we meet acts as a mirror of ourselves. the things that bother us are simply pieces of our personal selves we’ve yet to come to terms with.

when we act against this very notion, we affect the collective universal consciousness. we set off a negative ripple that spreads through the shared web of human connectivity. whether we see first hand how our actions affect the whole doesn’t matter — we’re all connected and our vibrations set off chain reactions. the energy will be felt, regardless.

what we don’t realize or choose not to see is that when one person hurts, we all hurt. when one person feels lonely, we all feel lonely. one person’s differences do not render him a “fucked up” human. no one person is all right. no one person is all perfection. no one person is normal, for there is not real model for human normalcy. there is only a human heart, beating all the days it lives.

so the next time you meet a person who sets off an immediate reaction, pause. take a moment for mindfulness. remember this person is a person, just like you. maybe he’s struggling. maybe he’s just lost a parent, friend, or lover. maybe he’s spent his whole life enveloped in crippling anxiety, rendering his social skills impaired. you never know. so hold the judgement and the potential mean comment. you never know what your moment of compassion might lead to in another individual.



This entry was published on May 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “the UCSB shootings and a call for compassion

  1. Katie on said:

    Thanks for this Zoe – couldn’t have come at a better time, actually because there is this boy in one of my classes who stirs up every negative emotion in me. I’m self-aware enough to realize this is not because of him at all, but because of me…not self-aware enough to stop feeling these things in reaction to him though! This is the wake up call I need to deal with others with compassion and leave the judgments behind.

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