With the recent mass murders in our nation, there are reactions that include this one expressed in a LA Times headline, “Two Massacres and No Answers”. As an absolute statement this headline is accurate. Each mass murderer is a unique human being who has choices as to how they to live their lives. We don’t know why people specifically choose to act as they do. We don’t have definitive answers. But we do know there are insights into these murderers, even some commonalities
The most obvious way a murderer will give us insight into what they did is by letting them tell us. They may leave a suicide note/ confession/ manifesto/social media evidence/ etc. This is certainly an insight toward “answers”.
Other than what the murderer’s say themselves, there are also key insights toward “answers” from a spiritual ands psychological dimension. From Sandy Hook to Columbine to the most recent cases, there are commonalities.
Spiritually, these murderers chose to not want God in their lives. None of them were committed followers of the ways of Jesus. Obviously, “love your neighbor” and “love your enemy” are not part of their experience.
Nihilism is the worldview of many of these murderers. Rejecting there is any meaning to life. Rejecting any religious or moral principles, except one. In many of these mass murders, the perpetrator has become a god unto themselves. Most often these murderers exhibit the “unholy” trinity of behaviors Jesus and the Bible most often speak against. These three responses to life provide the recipe for pure evil: Arrogance, deceit, and resentment.
Arrogance- You are the god of your own universe.
Deceit- You tell yourself lies, deceiving yourself into thinking that you are the only one who is right. You live this deceit with those around you.
Resentment- Your conscious anger toward the world, perhaps your subconscious anger toward yourself, where all of this anger builds up into pure resentment and eventually contempt. Contempt is where you don’t consider other people as worthy of existence.
Psychologically, once again the unhealthy trinity of arrogance (“narcissism”) deception, and resentment. The best psychological insight I have received on this topic is from clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson. In his book, Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote For Chaos, Peterson speaks about the “why?” when it comes to the despicable behavior of mass murderers in his Rule #6, “Set you house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
Rather than summarizing his insights, you can listen for yourself. I am including this recording of Peterson reading this chapter. Also, there is this interview clip, where Peterson gives a brief review.