The two words of this post’s title began a statement from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, as he accurately described the horror of today’s mass murder in Newtown. 28 souls were taken in the course of murder and suicide.
Reactions to the tragedy from individuals has included numbness, fear, anger, loss of trust. Moms and dads have rushed home to hug their own blessedly safe children while others cry in anguish at their loss.
Institutions in the community react to such events as well. Many issues of personal and public concern arose from the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide on December 1st. The issues behind the Oregon mall shooting on December 11th in Happy Valley are yet to emerge.
Everyone is coping in their own way- counting tears, counting blessings, or counting reasons why.
As a mental health professional, I have been interested to read that today’s murderer of 18 children is speculated to have had a personality disorder in one story, and an autism spectrum disorder in another. The two are not the same, and who is to know right now which, if either, factors into this horrendous act.
To say that evil exists and is in the world is not just a therapeutic attempt to externalize the pain of this act. It is a statement of fact. In fallen, broken man there is always the potential for evil acts out of an evil heart.
The shooters death is as tragic as any of the others who were killed, whether he succumbed to illness or to a choice.
Evil intentions yielded evil results today, and it will take a long time to begin recovering. Mental illness would make it particularly sad, especially if he could have been helped prior to this. But let us pray to the Father of lights that the darkness of our hearts will be subdued in Him.
Prayers of peace to all who are lost in the tragedy of today and the past weeks, and for our nation as it mourns.