On October 26, Cesar Sayoc, a 56 year old Florida man, was arrested for sending mail bombs to prominent Democrats such as former president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, and many others.
On October 27, a man named Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered eleven people. Bowers was taken into custody and faces 29 federal crimes as well as 36 state crimes.
On October 28, a man named Gregory Bush tried to commit a massacre at a predominantly Black church, but finding it locked, shot two people at a Kroger grocery store.
On November 2, a man named Scott Beierle walked into a hot yoga class and shot six people, killing two. Beierle had a history of assaulting women and had posted several troubling videos discussing his beliefs.
Fifteen people have been murdered in high-profile killings in just a week, and aside from the Sayoc mail bombs, all of them were shot to death. Another common denominator was a feeling of hatred or inadequacy that morphed into hatred (as feelings of inadequacy or inferiority often do.) . These people, feeling a sense of hatred towards others- Sayoc who hated the people who Trump denigrated in the media, Bowers who felt that all Jews should die, Bush who hated Black people so much he plotted to murder Black Church-goers, and Beierle whose misogynistic hatred drove him to murdering two people.
So what do we do? We see the implements they used to commit murder, we recognize the hatred in them, we realize that we are in a climate where people feel free to engage in violence. What can we do when it seems like every few months, there is a devastating episode of gun violence? What do we do with our feelings of anger and sadness in the aftermath of these events?
As in any tragedy, self- care is necessary. If social media posts and the constant news cycle gets to be too much, it's okay to take a break and spend some time doing something else, like exercising, reading a book, playing music, and other activities. Helping out in the community by doing volunteer projects is also a way to make a positive difference. If you are adherent to a particular faith or group, it's also great to spend some time engaged in prayer, discussion, or other activities. Creating artwork- painting, drawing, sculpting, etc.- is another healthy outlet for our feelings.
We may not be able to control what other people do- in fact, we are only in control of what we choose to do. We are not in charge of other people's feelings or their determination to create value for themselves by hating or harming other people. We cannot make people become self-aware or kind. We are not in charge of other people's rage, we can only manage our own in the face of their actions. We can work towards stricter gun laws, we can push for better mental health services, we can expose the toxicity of people's behavior, we can try to raise our children to be good people, but a lot of life's tragedies are, unfortunately, out of our hands. So what do we do now? We can grieve. We can comfort others who grieve. We can look to create a brighter future. We can care for ourselves and protect the light that's within us from the darkness in the world.
We can continue to be.
May there be solace for the families of those who were killed and may their memories be blessed.