Thursday, April 19
Today, we are quick to pin wickedness on a mere imbalance of chemicals in the brain, a sort of secular original sin. We sometimes call Hitler and his cronies--or any other string of cold-hearted dictators and tyrants--simply "insane," rather than thuggish, merciless, violent, twisted by hate, because it lets us off the hook when it comes to our own free will. Perhaps Hitler et al. were a bit wrong in the head--but at some point, somehow, they had a choice in their careers in infamy. As do we--we're all poor sinners of some stripe, whether great or small, who can be brought low by living only for our various passions--hatred, lust, avarice, take your pick.
But what makes this massacre so awful is that there appears to have been authentic insanity mingled with freely-willed evil deep at its heart, and nobody did anything until it was too late. In the end, only God can know what made him snap.
It is for such times that the sober conventions of mourning are made--the murmured "I'm sorry," "It's terrible," "our prayers are with you," "requiascat in pace"--that in other times might seem stale; as in such situations, both our creativity and our mind fail in the face of such tragedy.