The Christian way to prevent a rampage shooter
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-04-09

Rampage shooting has become dangerously vogue. Recently, it was Jiverly Voong, a US migrant of Vietnamese descent, who went on a shooting rampage in Binghamton, New York. Voong viciously killed 14 persons he did not even know — including a migrant Filipina.

In April 2007, Cho Seung-Hui went on a shooting rampage in Virginia Tech and killed 32 persons who did not offend him in a direct, intentional way.

Both Voong and Cho were not the first to engage in this Kamikaze-style suicide where those who wanted to end their lives opted to underscore their wrath towards society by slaughtering innocent folks. Perhaps they envied their victims for appearing to live normal and happy lives.

In the April 4 New York Daily News story by Joe Kemp and Matthew Lysiak, Kevin Greene, who worked with Voong, told crime scene investigators how he and another co-worker once joked that Voong “would come in mad one day and shoot people.” In the same story, another co-worker described Voong as one who “kept to himself but made some off-the-wall comments like he wanted to kill the President.”

Mahmoon Shafi, who once fixed the heater of Voong, noted that he seemed like a troubled man — “a very nice guy but he seemed very, very depressed.” Shafi remembered (and was quoted in the New York Daily News story) Voong saying: “I did everything good for everybody but nobody did anything good for me.”

But compared to Voong, Cho Seung-Hui was a worse case in being the angry, detached, loner type. Many of the others who also went on a shooting rampage were described as people who seemed to have lost attachment to society and thus evolved into dangerous sociopaths.

Cho reportedly hated the rich passionately. His professors and fellow classmates were disturbed by what they saw developing in Cho — the obvious anger and belligerence. Their big mistake was that they did nothing.

The late founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich, took inspiration from the essence of Jesus Christ forsaken on the cross which she felt constituted the worst of Christ’s suffering. Indeed, for a God-Man to cry on the cross “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me” must have been the most human and painful aspect of Calvary.

Chiara Lubich believed that more than the scourging, more than being humiliated and spat at while carrying His cross, more than the nails that pierced through His wrist to cut off a vital tendon that made breathing extremely difficult — the feeling, even if just for a moment, that He has been abandoned by the Father, must have inflicted intolerable pain. It is said that hell isn’t about fire but the abandonment by God.

To those who dedicate their lives to the ideal which the Focolare Movement propagates — Jesus forsaken has become the symbol of the neighbor we must love and be in unity with. The least of our brethren whom Jesus Christ asked us to love is Jesus forsaken when that neighbor is in his neediest moment. When we ourselves are in our greatest moment of need, we too are suffering like Jesus Christ forsaken.

Would Voong and Cho still develop into sociopaths had there been good neighbors who loved them, as Jesus Christ prescribed every Christian to do, and established unity with them? Would Voong and Cho still want to kill innocent folks if some kind Christian soul went out of the way to inject into their lives the existence of reciprocal love?

The fact that Voong and Cho killed many others, instead of just killing themselves, underscored the build up of hate in their hearts and the pressure that the feeling of alienation must have imposed on their thinking. In the absence of love, hate builds up to dangerous levels and that pushes a person to violate social norms and become violent. Love conquers all and that includes hate and the feeling of alienation.

Jesus Christ could have easily raised an army that was bigger and more powerful than the Roman legions. But Christ opted to conquer the world, including Rome, with love.

In our world today, there are so-called rogue states that are being watched very carefully lest they engage in rampage shooting. What makes them very dangerous is that they could be shooting at us with nuclear missiles. There is North Korea and Iran as two of the most feared potential “nuclear terrorists” as what the US is trying to paint them.

It is most encouraging that US President Barack Obama is displaying signs of an enlightened leader by extending an open hand and invitation to both North Korea and Iran - for them to engage in healthy dialogue instead of diabolical warmongering.

Do we wait for some of the very poor, unloved and alienated in our society to go on a mad shooting rampage while we are in a public place with our family? Too late to establish our unity with them, by then they will unite us instead with our late ancestors.

When do we become real Christians and start seeing and LOVING Jesus Christ in the least of our brethren?

Let’s all have a meaningful Good Friday.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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