Elliot Rodger. A twenty-two year old man who took the lives of six victims and himself, while wounding thirteen others.
What is the right response to this incredible act of violence? Dissecting the issue piece by piece and realizing the violent culture in which we live today.
Elliot Rodgers was a mentally ill young man. He suffered from a highly functional case of Asperger Syndrome. This Syndrome is a form of autism, in which those who have an affected view of the their social interactions. However, Elliot's mental health was not unchecked. According to CNN news, he had been seeing a therapist since the age of eight, even up to a daily appointment during the years he spent in high school. Both of his parents were aware of his condition, and monitored his social media postings and general well being.
When posts about suicide consideration and general violence appeared on his social media profiles, his own family contacted the police and asked them to make sure Elliot was okay. In April, six policemen visited Elliot at his home, but found nothing suspicious, and advised Elliot to contact his family and assure them of his mental stability.
The mental health system of the state of California is not broken. In all reality, it worked exactly as it was supposed to. Elliot met with a therapist, his family was aware of the issues he suffered from, and the police even visited his home. The reality is that Elliot Rodgers was a mentally ill person who was bent on the destruction of human life.
The issue is not that gun violence is rampant and all guns need to be banned. In fact, a new study in the United States found that in 2010, the violence rate was 49% lower than in the 1990s, and firearm-related violence -- assaults, robberies, sex crimes -- was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993.
Elliot was also detrimentally affected by the sex saturated culture in which we live. His most obvious failure in his own life was the fact that, at twenty-two years old, he was still a virgin. When speaking to Dale Launer, who directed movies about love and relationships, Elliot wrote, "He wanted to help me overcome my troubles because he is a so-called expert with women. He even showed me pictures of all the gorgeous women he had dated in his life, and there was a lot of them. This man truly lived" (CNN News).
What has happened to our culture when the definition of true living is how many women you can seduce? When the bane of your existence is the fact that you have not "lost" your virginity? Oh, for the world to realize that your virginity is not something you should just want to discard for a pleasure high and bragging rights. That it is a beautiful gift given by God to be given in return to your spouse on your wedding night?
We also are encouraged by a narcissistic culture, where everything is about the self. Instead of a love defined by the Catechism as the act of "willing the good of another," the culture encourages selfish mindset in which it is all about "me."
"My orchestration of the Day of Retribution [Elliot's label for the massacre] is my attempt to do everything in my power to destroy everything I cannot have." This is the sentence that was found in Elliot's manifesto of over one hundred pages. Instead of willing others' good and rejoicing at the success of others, he was determined to live through the age-old mentality of "if I cannot be happy, then no one can be happy."
With a pursuit of his desire to have others join in his self-perceived misery, he took with him the lives of the innocent as retribution for the supposed rejection he had experienced. The NRA is not to be blamed. His parents are not to be blamed. The therapist(s) are not to be blamed. The police are not at fault. When someone orchestrates a massacre and is cowardly enough to take their own life so as to avoid punishment and consequence for their actions, they are the ones to be held responsible.
As we grieve for the unnecessary loss of the lives of those in Santa Barbara, may we pray for all the souls of those who are no longer on this earth.
May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Si vis amari ama,