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

April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obama-care
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail