Musings On The Sandy Hook Shootings

Musings On The Sandy Hook Shootings

Photo by Jiri Hodan

First of all, let me say I am awash in grief over this incident. My heart goes out to the parents of these precious children.

Every time a mass shooting occurs, the cause-and-effect people come out of the woodwork. Some say it’s because of violent video games; some say it is due to violence in movies; and some claim all we need to do is ban the sale of firearms. I think it goes much deeper than any of these, much deeper than anything rational. There is no direct cause for something this heinous in the human experience. Such acts result from a very long process of deanimization of our culture. By the term, “deanimization,” I mean the removal of Soul from the human experience.

The following quote from C.G Jung, which I used in my article, The Loss of Myth, applies to this situation:

. . .the individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, has need, first and foremost of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish — as he ought — to live without self deception or self-delusion (C.G. Jung, MDR, pg 330). 

These shootings we have seen for a number of years are not effects of direct causes. They are, rather, pathological symptoms of our culture. 

I proposed in the aforementioned article that those who have not erected sufficiently protective mythical and symbolic barriers  are more prone to allowing the tsunami of unconscious forces, which include some very evil phenomena, to wash over us. This is what religion once accomplished for Western culture, but no longer does, since it has adopted most of the thought-patterns of those who attempt to banish symbols and myths from the minds of all of us. I am referring here to fundamentalists of all religions, who hold the world’s most powerful and cathartic symbologies and mythologies in utter contempt. I am also referring to those adherents of scientism, who see no worth in things of the Soul at all. They have made a Faustian deal, where Soul has been given in exchange for scientific and materialistic knowledge. 

Notice I used the word, “allowing” in the above paragraph. There is a choice involved here. One can very consciously give oneself over to the left-hand path. One decides to be a follower of evil. Once open to these forces, one’s actions are not one’s own. Evil is not simply the Augustinian privatio boni, the privation of good; evil is a very real phenomenon. The adherents of scientism will never explain it rationally.

Just as Perseus used Athena’s polished shield to view Medusa’s hideous reflection without being turned to stone, so we reflect upon images and symbols to better understand the evil within us, without giving ourselves over to it. This is the purpose of the Shadow archetype, in Jungian terms. We are protected by the myths; they have a mitigating effect on the power of the unconscious forces. We live without them to our demise. 

I don’t know the circumstances of the shooter‘s life. He was obviously insane. But how many insane people became that way because of a privation of Soul? How many became that way because they chose to follow evil? It is a deep mystery why someone follows after darkness to the exclusion of light.

Our culture has failed miserably. We must realize, and soon, what we’re doing and correct it. We must restore the things of Soul to our society. We must reconnect with the Sacred. We must, once again, emphasize the importance of what we once called a “classical education,” where Classics studies and the Humanities were primary. We once studied the myths of our culture and had them ingrained into us. Now, we are inculcated with math and science so that corporations can make more profit from us.
 

This evening, my prayers and thoughts are with the families of the victims of this most heinous act. May your hearts be filled with the peace that passes all understanding.

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3 thoughts on “Musings On The Sandy Hook Shootings

  1. The first quote that comes to mind is one of my favorites by Martin Luther King, Jr: We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

    But I do take exception with some of what you wrote, particularly this: Evil is not simply the Augustinian privatio boni, the privation of good; evil is a very real phenomenon. The adherents of scientism will never explain it rationally.

    Denise Levertov, in Origins of a Poem wrote something I've kept for the last 20 years since I first encountered it, because it explains evil to me very clearly:

    There can be no self-respect without respect for others, no love and reverence for others without love and reverence for oneself; and no recognition of others is possible without the imagination. The imagination of what it is to be those other forms of life that want to live is the only way to recognition; and it is that imaginative recognition that brings compassion to birth. Man's capacity for evil, then, is less a positive capacity, for all its horrendous activity, than a failure to develop mans most human function, the imagination, to its fullness, and consequently a failure to develop compassion.

    The belief in the personification of evil as a force (Satan) has been the cause of great evil, historically (i.e. the Inquisition). Even today it seems like hardly a week goes by that I don't hear of some murder where the accused was instructed by God to wage war on Satanic forces.

    I also don't consider the left hand path to be “evil”. At least, not in the Sandy Hook sense of “evil”. There are many things that the Catholic Church deems evil that I consider neutral or positive (i.e. homosexuality, fornication, masturbation, blasphemy, etc). So only from a fundamentalist/authoritarian perspective is my left hand path “evil”.

  2. Argh! Blogger deleted my whole comment. Fourth try on the captcha failed 🙁 If you're going to moderate your comments anyway, maybe the captcha isn't necessary? I'm doing my honest best to decipher the letters and numbers. One of these days, maybe someone will write a computer program to help that task 😉 Here's hoping the fifth try works.

    Back to what I wrote once before:

    1) I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by MLK: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    2) I take exception to this: “Evil is not simply the Augustinian privatio boni, the privation of good; evil is a very real phenomenon. The adherents of scientism will never explain it rationally.”

    I especially dislike the last sentence. Some 20 years ago I ran into this by Denise Levertov in the essay “Origins of a Poem”. It stuck with me and I've referred to it probably once a month since then.

    “There can be no self-respect without respect for others, no love and reverence for others without love and reverence for oneself; and no recognition of others is possible without the imagination. The imagination of what it is to be those other forms of life that want to live is the only way to recognition; and it is that imaginative recognition that brings compassion to birth. Man's capacity for evil, then, is less a positive capacity, for all its horrendous activity, than a failure to develop mans most human function, the imagination, to its fullness, and consequently a failure to develop compassion.”

    I believe that the belief in personification of evil as a force (i.e. Satan) has been directly responsible for a great deal of historical evil in the world (i.e. inquisition). Even today, I regularly read reports that someone murdered their children or parents, because God told them to strike his enemies and fight against evil.

    3) I also take objection to the characterization of the left hand path as “evil”. It isn't necessarily “Sandy Hook kind of evil”, but evil in the sense of things hated by the same fundamentalists you decry, things like homosexuality, masturbation, fornication, blasphemy, etc. In that sense, my left hand path is thoroughly evil.

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