Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Many Sadnesses of School Shootings

Today, the New York Times posted a story called: From Sandy Hook Killer's Home, A Chilling Inventory.

Reading it mostly made me sad.  The shooter, Adam Lanza, had guns, gun manuals, and a large stock of ammunition.  But, he also had a book called, Blue Day - Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant.  And, another: Train your Brain to Get Happy.   The article says: " Experts say people with autism spectrum disorders are often bullied in school and the workplace, and frequently suffer from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts."

So, was this shooting an example of the bully-d becoming the bully-er?   It made me flash back to the times when I am sure I interacted with someone who would now be diagnosed on the spectrum as exhibiting Asperger's syndrome.  I remember a woman in high school, crazy smart, but just "off."  She worked hard to be involved socially, and now, I can admire her persistence and courage.  How terribly alone she must have felt.  Being an odd-one-out myself -- tall, smart, and very right-brained -- I always empathized.

Later, a brilliant guy applied to my law firm.  He had almost a perfect law school record, but when my partners asked me to join the employment interview, I noticed his poor grooming.  I questioned whether he had bathed in the last several days and dandruff covered the shoulders of his suit.  Later, my managing partner asked me about working with him, and frankly, I said I would not. I am not proud of that response, but at least I was expressing my own needs as a stressed out litigator.

This inventory of Adam Lanza's home shows us, again, that the story is never as simple as we might hope.  The victim turns Devil.  But, his anger turns on the most helpless among us.  Just read the description of the massacre on Wikipedia to see what "chilling" really means.

As President of the Virginia Mediation Network -- the largest state-wide group of mediation practitioners, trainers, and scholars --  I have thought long and hard about how our organization should respond to these incidents.  In my next posting, I'll show you what I asked of our membership.  

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