The Psychic View: A Squandered Life
By Marjorie Young
One recent news event captured my attention, proving at once both bizarre and distressing. A man in his seventies, living in a small Kansas town, attacked a Jewish Community Center, shooting down a grandfather and his fourteen-year-old grandson in the parking lot. He then headed to a nearby Jewish Assisted Living Facility, murdering a woman on the way to visiting her elderly mother. The motive for the slaughter was ‘killing Jews’…the shooter harboring a life-long hatred of anyone practicing that religion. To punctuate the issue, he shouted out pro-Nazi slogans while being hauled away by the police.
The terrible irony was that none of the victims were Jewish; on the contrary, the dead were regular church-goers. Besides every other deplorable aspect of the incident, it struck me as absurd that, having spent a lifetime hating Jews, and even serving as the ‘Grand Dragon’ of the Klu Klux Klan, the shooter could not, in the end, even distinguish the targets of his malice from the rest of humanity!
Obviously, my sympathy is with the victims. Yet, I discovered other emotions beyond simple disdain for the shooter. One thought dominated all others – what an absurd and utter waste of his life! He had spent seventy-plus years obsessed with hating those following another religion…few of whom had likely even crossed his path. Yet, Jews were made the ‘boogeyman’…responsible for every wrong, real or imagined, consuming his thoughts.
Pondering this, a number of things occurred to me. First, this obsessive focus on ‘the other’ created a perfect method for the shooter to evade scrutinizing his own existence. If ‘they’ were to blame for everything, then what need or incentive to strive for anything truly his own? Did he have no vocation or pastime other than thinking dire thoughts about his ‘enemies?’
Might he have become an athlete, artist, attorney? So many options were potentially his. Of course, that would have meant putting himself on the line to galvanize his dreams…which always requires courage and commitment. Perhaps he had such hopes at one point. But when reviling his ‘foes’ (which also included African Americans) became a full-time occupation, all else obviously went out the window. It was as if something was disintegrating him, from the inside out.
As self-defeating and ludicrous as this mind-set is, it is clear that many of us are guilty something similar. Though we may not heap blame upon another religious or ethnic group, we may still readily attribute our failings to others…spouses, parents, siblings, employers, …that handy list is endless! While our own grudges may hopefully not result in a shooting spree, we still can injure ourselves, as well as our targets, with endless acrimony.
Condemning another for our circumstances leads nowhere but in circles. When we finally willingly…even gratefully…embrace the liberty to determine our true path, the resulting emancipation allows us to move forward at last. So let us learn, even from the lessons of tragedy, that we are our own best liberators. And no degree of ‘fixating’ on anyone else will erase that simple fact!
Marjorie is available for readings at the Ballard Sunday Market, her Ballard home or by phone.
Please email her: email@example.com
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