FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Make Decisions

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

I recognize an ancient connection with the sea. Yet I’m only an acquaintance. No friendship. I never wanted to be a mermaid. When we were young, my sister Laura asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I answered, “The ballerina in the music box.” I took dance lessons, practiced walking on my toes, pirouetting through the house.

I walk the beach, run the beach. Dip a foot in the surf and then another, inch forward knee deep, and finally feel water reach my shoulders. Fine, as long as I can see the shore. Gliding past my legs, a school of fish might as well be a shark. I gasp at the mystery, at something foreboding, even merciless.

There’s a vastness that’s too much like eternity. I need to see clearly a limit, containment, sides and the bottom, like that music box, or a swimming pool. Painted concrete.

Oscar Pistorius vomited in the courtroom. According to an expert, the track star accused of murdering his girlfriend, used maximum-damage bullets. What was he thinking? What is he thinking?

I’m thinking of 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers on flight MH370, a nighttime sky, darkness, the sea, enormity. I could vomit.

When we flew to Istanbul, summer of 2012, I wanted land beneath the plane, not water. If we crashed, I preferred to hit dirt and rocks, to break into body parts against terra firma, not waves of wet depth.

When reading about the missing Malaysian airplane, I have to visualize serenity. I’m visual. I have a visual in which there is no catastrophic event, like an explosion. Instead, a hand reaches out, gently taking hold, placing the plane somewhere, undisturbed. I force a visual of each traveler, each crewmember, wearing an expression of peace.

I read a CNN online article, listing four scenarios. There was information about “… a super secret U.S. government satellite orbiting 22,000 miles in space … As a group, they can observe virtually the entire globe.” And since they detect missile launches via heat, it’s possible an exploding plane could be identified. This question was posed though: “Would the government hesitate to release such an image for fear of revealing the satellite system’s ultraclassified capacity?” So, we have this omniscient technology that might provide answers to the aircraft’s disappearance, but accessing the data would expose its clandestine-ness.

What if my sons were on that plane? Your children were on that plane?

Adam Lanza’s father Peter wishes his son had never been born. During six interviews with writer Andrew Solomon, he told his story. Lanza said, “I want people to be afraid of the fact that this could happen to them.”

Like Pistorius, Adam Lanza loved guns. I’ve seen only headlines of the Pistorius news, never clicking on an article. But I’ve read many about Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and now this powerful piece in which Soloman writes:

Adam Lanza was a terrorist for an unknowable cause who committed three distinct atrocities: he killed his mother; he killed himself; he killed children and adults he’d never met before. Two of these acts are explicable; the third, incomprehensible. There are many crimes from which most people desist because we know right from wrong and are careful of the law. Most people would like to have things that belong to others; many people have felt murderous rage. But the reason that almost no one shoots twenty random children isn’t self-restraint; it’s that there is no level at which the idea is attractive.

I scrolled through reader comments at the end of another article about Peter Lanza. Many people denounced him, saying he should have been more present in his son’s life, should have been there to see that Adam received the attention he required.

Adam Lanza had problems at an early age, not speaking until he was three. Hypersensitive to touch and smell, he was diagnosed with sensory-integration disorder. As early as kindergarten, he was seeing specialists and eventually was evaluated by a psychiatrist. Peter Lanza said that his son was always “thinking differently … just a normal little weird kid.” When Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s, his parents knew what they faced. (Or thought they did.) The syndrome was presented to Adam as positive—finally something nameable. He found this unacceptable. His parents sought professional help repeatedly but he was unreceptive to therapy. After their divorce, Adam became fascinated with mass murder. (This was discovered during a search of his computer.) And he was isolated, spending more and more time in his room. Peter Lanza said that Adam’s mother Nancy wasn’t afraid of her son, didn’t lock her bedroom door. We know she was a gun enthusiast with an arsenal in the home and that she believed in the therapeutic value of sharing the interests of a child with Asperger’s/autism.

Andrew Solomon contacted psychiatrists in an effort to understand Adam. James Knoll, a forensic psychiatrist at SUNY said the rampage delivered a message: “I carry profound hurt—I’ll go ballistic and transfer it onto you.” According to Knoll, “this is as much motive as we’re likely to find.”

Peter Lanza said:

With hindsight, I know Adam would have killed me in a heartbeat, if he’d had the chance. I don’t question that for a minute. The reason he shot Nancy four times was one for each of us: one for Nancy; one for him; one for Ryan [Adam’s brother]; one for me.

Many commenters took particular offence at Peter Lanza’s saying he wished Adam had never been born, that he called his son evil. I suppose he could have said that Adam’s crimes, the pain his choices caused, are the evil. But aren’t we defined by our actions, our choices? I can’t condemn this man whose sorrow is as unimaginable as that of the parents who lost their own children that day Peter Lanza’s life changed too. So far, he’s met with two of the families. One expressed forgiveness.

We make decisions. To have a child. To own a gun. To board a plane. To do or not do something. And to forgive.

So many thoughts are swirling through my head: birth, death, disappearances, forgiveness. One is guaranteed.

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail