FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Make Decisions

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.

More articles by:

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

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail