Returned from my annual Oregon Country Fair (OCF) family reunion and my spirit was soaring. OCF is a place where people come together to redefine what it means to live in community. It’s founded on the principle that we are a family who share common origins, dignity, and destiny. A place where relatives come together to share their unique contributions and celebrate life in a place that promotes health, explores consciousness, arts, music, dancing, alternative lifestyles, and ecological awareness. Strolling at OCF is where I feel most connected to my humanity.
The day after I returned home that spirit was drained, when James Holmes, a 24-year-old graduate student slaughtered a dozen people and wounded more than 50 others in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. Why did this quiet (maybe a little bit nerdy) honor student, who had never previously been in trouble, do this crazy thing?
As a psychiatrist I can tell you I don’t know, and frankly none of my colleagues know, or can accurately predict who will or won’t crack when the stressors get unbearably intense. Experts will scrutinize James Holmes’ history, find out why he recently left his graduate program, he’ll be psychologically tested, and have his brain examined. Psychiatrists will provide expert testimony at his trial (that will invariably be conflicting), and in the end we still won’t be able to define the cause for this lonely, depressed young man, becoming a mass murderer.
I do know this, whatever diagnosis gets pinned on him, this act will forever define him__just as he hoped it would. It’s also clear to me that easy access to military weapons makes it easier for the crazed to perpetuate such bizarre acts of violence. But as Michael Moore has documented in Bowling for Columbine, it’s more than just an issue of easy accessibility, it’s the economic/social/and political context in which guns exist. We live in a global a culture that is desensitizing us to violence. Suicide bombers, and other acts of terror are weekly media fare, and bloody violence has been elevated to an art form in movies and video games… it all hardens us to its presence.
I don’t know why James Holmes snapped, but I do know we make it better through hard times if we’re not alone. Our survival as a species is based on human connections; to get through life we need to be able to depend on someone other than ourselves. From breast to bedsores we thrive better in community because that’s the soil that nurtures the human spirit.
Get connected to a family, tribe, community that reminds you about what you like best about yourself, and who believe in the sanctity of all living things. Take me out of my Aurora mind and back home to Country Fair.
PS: There is a fantastic workshop coming up Oct. 19-21, 2012 in Phoenix, for healers interested in maximizing their effectiveness. ( HYPERLINK “https://www.healingdoc.com/the-science-and-spirit-of-healing.php” https://www.healingdoc.com/the-science-and-spirit-of-healing.php )