By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
I FIND it intriguing that the latest rampage killer in the US was described as a loner. Someone commented that the other rampage killers before him were invariably loners too.
We now wonder why the US and many other supposedly rich and developed countries in the West and Australia seem to be breeding loners who turn out to be rampage killers.
It doesn’t mean that Asia, Africa and the East in the general don’t have this kind of individuals. There are many of them too in these places. But they are usually described as ignorant fanatics, or at worst, religious or political terrorists. Not so with their Western counterparts, who are known to be educated and all that.
Is there anything wrong then with Western culture, or is it their current difficult social and economic condition, that turns loners into rampage killers? I suppose there are many reasons and factors that can enter into the explanation of this very disturbing phenomenon.
But we cannot discount the fact that in these places, many broken and dysfunctional families, children raised by single parents, and a good number of adults who remain single and live alone, must contribute to the making of many loners. They provide the elements that lead to horrible sicknesses, mental, emotional, psychological, etc., that loners are most prone to.
The unavoidable relations made among them are hardly of the deep and enduring type. They are most of the time just casual flings, made for merely practical purposes and not anchored on any stable basis, principle or spirit.
It’s really a pity that the relations of people have turned out this way. But this could be because many people do not know anymore what it is to be a person who is supposed to be vitally connected with God and with others.
That a person is a rational, intelligent individual meant to enter into relationship with God first, his creator, and then with everybody else, his equal partners in life, is lost on many people. A person is by definition meant for love—to love God and others.
For them, to be a person is just to enjoy freedom without realizing where it comes from and how it should be used. To be a person is simply to enjoy oneself, unmindful of any external and objective law to govern him. They make themselves their own law, or their own lawgiver, their own God. Selfish in character, it’s a freedom that does feel the need for prayer, for faith, etc.
Freedom has become a captive of a purely subjective interpretation, detached from its objective source and not oriented to its proper goal. It most likely gets entangled in the realm of the material and carnal, the pragmatic considerations, etc. It hardly goes beyond that level. The spiritual, the supernatural, the religious aspects are ignored.
This is often the sickness of liberalism that allows freedom to run wild on its own. It’s a terrible disease because it gives the heady sensation that everything is all right as long as one doesn’t inconvenience another. Any problem can just be solved by some practical means that in themselves are also very prone to manipulations and deceptions.
One of the architects of liberalism and its relative of utilitarianism—the attitude of valuing things according to their usefulness to an individual—was John Stuart Mill, a 19th century British philosopher who actively batted for extreme individualism and even eccentricism.
He certainly had a confused understanding of how a person can be at the same time an individual person and a social being, meant to enter into communion with God and with others. He not only distinguished these two aspects of man’s life, but rather separated them.
In his book, “On Liberty,” he wrote: “It is desirable that in things which do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert itself.” These words already show his tendency to contrast individuality and community.
This attitude is reinforced when he said in the same book, “Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable that people should be eccentric.
“Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded...That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.”
This is a terrifying thought that seems to enter into the ethos of Western culture. There is no mention about God. It is just pure eccentricity that can be based on anything.
This, I believe, is how loners who can turn to be rampage killers are made.