Elliot Rogers did a bad thing. It’s a bad thing to take the lives of innocent, unsuspecting people. Why did he do it? A common answer will be that he was sick. Medical professionals failed to get the chemicals in his brain properly adjusted and that’s all there is to it. The solution then is to continue to experiment with chemicals so that people won’t act so violently. Another explanation could be that Elliot failed to learn the proper techniques for personal de-escalation— if he could only have learned the proper use of breathing & meditation. If he could have utilized happy thought therapy or appropriate distraction techniques then this tragedy could have been averted. I am not convinced that chemical adjustment or technique adaptation is the ultimate solution to preventing this kind of societal harm. Is there another reason why Elliot Rogers did what he did? I think so. He did what he did because of belief. The story that he was believing shaped his life and led him to this dark place. What did he believe?
- About himself he believed that he was the best and most important person in the world. He refers to himself as “the perfect gentleman.”
- About women he believed that they were on this earth to give him pleasure
- About men he believed that none should achieve more pleasure than he.
- About money he believed that it was the only antidote for his loneliness.
The life story that he believed could be summarized in the following way: I am the most important person in this world, people exist to serve my needs, if they don’t a great injustice has been served me that will require deadly retribution. Society is built to produce pleasure only for the rich, beautiful, and famous. Because I am unable to accomplish these necessary life enhancers I will react destructively against a society that guarantees my misery. All that matters is the pleasure that life can produce, if a life cannot produce pleasure (in particular sexual pleasure) then it’s not worth living. Is there another story, that could have shaped Elliot’s life?
- About himself: What if he believed that he was a broken person, but in that brokenness he had been met with Divine sacrificial love, which led him to be convinced that no matter what he was loved and forgiven.
- About women: What if he believed that he was put on this earth to serve and bless others as an act of worship to this God of forgiveness.
- About men: What if he believed that he was called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep instead of comparing and resenting.
- About money: What if he believed that he was never truly alone because the Spirit of God was with him. What if he believed that he was inseparably and organically connected to a body of people that loved the same God and in this, he could find a loving community that cared little for riches, fame, or external beauty.
This is a real story, it’s the Jesus story. Countless millions have shaped their lives around this story. Why would we push this story to the margins of our society? Why would we choose to ignore it? Why not embrace it? If Elliot grew up shaping his life around this story, none of us would be talking about him right now, and a lot fewer tears would have been shed in California over the weekend.