Today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing-one of those “where were you moments” in history. I was at work in Downtown Dallas when a co-worker and fellow Okie came over to tell me the news and that I should probably call my parents. In the beginning, no one was sure whether it was an isolated attack or the start of an all out war. My parents were walking on a track in south Oklahoma City when the bomb went off-they said they felt the ground shake. I spent several years working in downtown Oklahoma City, and was saddened to see my old stomping grounds attacked.
Now the bombing is part of the lore of the state and our nation, along with the Edmond Postal Massacre and the Tornado of (I forget what year). I don’t think the tornado got a memorial out of the deal-natural disasters usually don’t. It’s the manmade disasters we like to remember.
I also paid a visit to Waco before the compound burned. Apparently, Timothy McViegh did as well, and I wonder if our paths ever crossed. I’ve met and known several people who have killed other humans, a couple of multiple killings. I’ve even talked to them about why they did it. I tend to ask a lot of questions.
I count myself as a carnivore and I live amongst a houseful of them. I had fish for lunch and everything else in my household eats meat almost exclusively. Buddhists and vegetarians aside, that kind of killing is normal and natural. I’ve also put down the occasional animal when it was sick or ailing. That is never pleasant, but it seems to be the right thing to do.
Killing for food, I understand. Killing to ease someone’s pain, I get. I have even been so very angry that I think I understand the heat of the moment gunshot. Killing innocents to draw attention to a cause or to your own internal pain- that I do not get. Moreover, apparently, in the case of many of the dramatic killers, killing the other people didn’t ease the pain enough, the killers generally wind up killing themselves too.
I think maybe those kinds of people are more like tornados than we’d like to admit-if the conditions are right, someone can snap. And the killer’s stated reasons aren’t any more than the meteorological conditions of someone’s soul.
The Virginia University shooter had a rough time growing up and felt like a social outcast. So did I, and in fact, I almost didn’t grow up at all. My meteorological conditions were right and I swallowed a whole lot of old timey anti-depressants they don’t use much any more because apparently lots of people swallowed them and some didn’t make it. Nevertheless, it never occurred to me to take someone with me.
Truth be told, I was too into my own agony to even think about anyone else.
Life is full of random acts and events that we simply cannot predict. Not to make light of any of this, but sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes people blow up and otherwise slaughter other people. Just like tornados.