Murder most unknowable is not a television series and it is not a drama of the stage. It is our current US production, played out in movie theaters, navy yards, schools and college campuses. In modern times, it typically casts young white males for the part of the murderer, although occasionally there is a diversity of race, economic background and even an age difference. The parents of these killers are portrayed as either completely surprised and shocked at what their son is capable of, or, perhaps, not surprised; like the father who wished his son had never lived and the mother who did not survive to tell the tale of his desperate struggle to stay out of the dark abyss.
What is the message we are to take away from these senseless killings? How are we to rectify the murder of hundreds and thousands of innocent victims, whose only “crime” was to be in the wrong place when the darkest ideas in a man’s mind, (a boy’s mind, for that matter), decide to play themselves out?
The factor in most of these scenarios is fear. Who knew that going to an action movie would have us searching the audience for likenesses of the Joker? Murder is not something we want to think about, but when it takes a sweeping look at our fellow audience to see if there is any sign of a concealed weapon, the fun has gone out of going to the movies.
Fear makes us vulnerable. If we are vulnerable, we are not in control. If we are not in control, we are not free to determine our own destiny.
Murder most unknowable is the tingling frisson of terror that runs up your spine at the thought of being forced to leap from your office chair and clamber under the desk to avoid a disgruntled employee. It is the realization that your children may not be safe once you put them on the bus. That no matter how many precautions one takes, the evildoer has control, whether by gun, knife or match.
Are we to accept a world with armed guards at the doors of our children’s schools? It puts me in mind of my past travels in a few Asian countries, where men armed with semi-automatic weapons pace the airport. At the time, it was a completely foreign world I was experiencing. Today, due to mass murderers and security built for terrorists threats, it is becoming more familiar.
This kind of murder goes deep into the heart of the one who would commit such carnage. We want to blame somebody, so let us blame the parents, the campus security, the deficiency of the military’s mental health treatment, the teacher who did not report a child’s strange behaviors, and of course, guns. It is all Monday-morning quarter-backing, and it is the way we deal with our own personal fears. We say to ourselves, “When I find a reason for the latest mass murder, I can relax and say it will not happen to me.”
Murder most unknowable keeps us awake at night, no matter how much we rationalize how it comes about, because we truly cannot understand the inner workings of the mind of a killer. Some are desperate, some are mentally ill, and some are evil. Killers kill on the spur of the moment and after planning and plotting with friends. They write in diaries and they leave no notes before taking themselves out: in short, we cannot predict their actions or inactions. It is a play we cannot rewrite. It is a story that has been told too often.
Blog/Opinion by Lisa M Pickering