I always wondered to myself: If someone I cared about was hurt or in critical danger, would I be strong enough to rush and save them? To me, it’s not about having the necessary amount of courage to throw ourselves in the midst of danger and rescue our loved ones, it’s more about the feeling inside of us that pushes us to this extreme. It’s about our instinct suddenly kicking in and urging us to take action. And taking action comes out of empathy, out of love. Because putting ourselves in physical or emotional danger isn’t worth it if the person we’re helping isn’t someone we deeply care about. We want to believe some random stranger would jump in front of a bullet to save us, but the chances of that happening is very slim. I’d like to believe I’d do it, but I don’t think I would. That’s because I rarely feel for the people around me.
Growing up, I couldn’t understand the lack of concern when it comes to dangerous or scary situations where most people would be flustering or panicking. I just don’t register events the same way they do. When my sister and her husband got into a car accident many years ago and I just stood there, I felt what I now think was a dissociation of my emotions. The only time I seem be in touch with my emotions and my empathy is when I’m the one being in danger. Do I feel bad about that? Part of me does. The other part doesn’t because feeling the way I do isn’t something I can change. I am the way I am because I was born or nurtured to be that way. It’s out of my control. And I can’t apologize for that.
Walking with Ellen and Anders in Lincoln Park where the vigil was held to show support for the families and victims of the Marlowe shooting felt like unfamiliar territory to me. Hundreds of people were converged at the park for a candlelight vigil. Some were crying while others quietly mourned the death of their loved ones. Pictures of the deceased as well as poems and flowers were piled up to express condolences. Marshall’s sister, Abigail was there when we arrived, and she got into a brief, irrational altercation with Anders, blaming his death on him since going to Marlowe was mainly his idea, adding the fact that he was jealous of her brother seeing somebody else. Their interaction ended immediately after Warren stepped in and made them walk away. Me on the other hand, I was standing behind them, deeply buried in my own private thoughts. And my thoughts were with Matt.
“What kind of person would sympathize with an unrepentant murderer who massacred thirty-eight innocent people in cold blood?”, I asked myself.
Instead of thinking about Warren and being grateful that he’s alive, my brain was stuck thinking about Matt. Why would I be sympathizing with a serial killer is beyond me. But in the case of the shooting, I can understand why. It’s because he did it out of love for me. Matt had legitimate pain and anger buried in him after I broke up with him, and that’s what drove him to commit this heinous act. I’m not defending him for killing all those people, but I understand why he did it. However, what would justify him killing all the other people growing up? That, I don’t know. What I do know is that every killer starts off as a victim. People turn into savage beasts because instead of being loved and cared for, they were abused and neglected as children. The worst part is that they had to take it. A child is defenseless, and his parents are his sanctum. When this sanctum is spawned with cruelty, they’re damned forever. Once the dysfunctional wiring of their brain starts, there’s no undoing the harm that’s been done.
Something must’ve happened to Matt when he was a child. People aren’t born evil. That’s what I choose to believe. Even after reading his dad’s letter, I think the real truth behind his roots is yet to be revealed.