Littleton Tragedy Considered
By Matt Ridgway <>
If there were ever a time for careful intellectual consideration, this is it. The recent shooting incident in Colorado will serve as the ultimate agenda booster for many a politico, not to mention long-stroking by the media in a manner that leaves my stomach as wretchedly heaving as consuming Tyson chicken covered in excrement.
Already various politicians are chiming in with their sound-bite sized solutions to this unimaginable incident, and quite frankly it doesn't surprise me. President Clinton has reportedly 'quietly assembled' his staff of advisors while his administrative puppet-with-a-badge Janet Reno boldly declares that 'we have a great opportunity right now'-and of that I have absolutely no doubt.
Trotting out Representative Carolyn McCarthy (the Mary Bono of the Long Island set), the anti-gun lobby feels it prudent to seize the moment of anger and fear (ala Oklahoma City) to ram-rod more ineffectual gun ownership restrictions into law in a transparent attempt to further their own mis-guided agenda. And in a move so mind-numbingly stupid that it defies description some Denver area schools have actually banned trenchcoats, those murderous garments of doom that surely played a significant role in the culture of murder propagated in this country.
These boys, and others like them before, are much more than disgruntled teens with sociopathic tendancies. It is a waste of time to attempt to determine motives, cause, pre-disposition or any of the pop psychology buzz diagnosis' that are sure to be bandied about on Oprah and Dateline. The grim fact of the matter is that somewhere in this country there are a group of kids who are watching this thing happening and are already planning a way to one-up the death toll and become the next media darlings, of that you may be assured.
The road that led these boys to this destination was most likely a long and twisted one, one that defies hindsight-rich conjecture. The reality that brought this incident crashing into our posession-rich dreamstate is that the very soul of this country is sick with self-loathing and contempt. For years society has looked to science to better define and improve not only our standard of living, but also our purpose. As we've levied our spiritual growth against our creature comfort, we have lost the very essence of what traditional religion purports to provide-true spiritual awareness.
From it's very inception, organized religion has taught us that we are unworthy, that as human beings we are born to sin and wickedness and that finally we are beyond redemption. The primary motivator has always been to hold our most precious aspect hostage by convincing us that our eternal souls are in jeopardy due to our base nature and that only through strict adherence to church doctrine can we ultimately avoid eternal damnation. This culture of persecution is bred into us at an early age, and we suffer with/from it throughout our adult lives, always aspiring to a Christ-like ideal of perfection that we can never attain, but nevertheless feel guilty about. You can well imagine the horrific psyche of someone raised without even the minimal benefits of religious affiliation, the disconnected people who hold little value for themselves, much less others. Is it any wonder then in a society that values material wealth and prosperity above all else that the murderous whim of a spiritually bankrupt sociopath would be considered a viable solution?
Please don't misunderstand. I am not blaming organized religion (or the lack of it) for this terrible tragedy. It is inarguable that religion of any kind must, by it's very nature, provide invaluable moral parameters which allow society in general to exist in a civilized manner. It is imperative though that this country, as a whole, begin placing a bigger emphasis on each individuals pursuit of their own spirituality, that religion be distanced from the judgemental, arcane and downright childish concepts of the past and begin to embrace a larger, more intellectually stimulating approach to the greater questions surrounding our purpose on this planet. I can scarce imagine that any human being who believes in and holds any regard for their immortal soul would aspire to this kind violence. Our focus must be realigned with that which is truly important. Material wealth and posessions provide no solace, have no long-lasting worth and ultimately distract us from our spiritual imperative.
The rampant greed and avarice of these modern times has produced little more than pain and misery the world over. Our headlong pursuit of earthly pleasure has left us with a floating moral center where fear of punishment is the only deterrent to aberrant behaviour, and the sincere pursuit of spiritual knowlege is reduced to New Age platitudes of dubious worth. We must take a moment to realize that we are not inherently bad people, that ultimately we are the creation of an ultimate being who's purpose we can never truly fathom but who's wisdom, love and acceptance are without end.
As the Egyptians were so fond of saying-"As above, so below". I see in my family a microcosm of our true purpose on this planet. I do not judge my children, nor do I expect more of them than they are capable of delivering, I merely love them with all my capacity, do my best to be worthy of them and finally stand behind them when they stumble or make mistakes. Now is not the time for quick, politically motivated solutions. Now is the time to truly reconnect with our families, to realize what a priceless gift our children-our very existence on this planet is. And finally to rededicate ourselves to a lifestyle that aspires to the very best of human nature, that which, above all, is the very essence of our God.
Matt Ridgway