It rained all day today. This is kind of unusual here in central Minnesota in the middle of December. It was so warm this weekend that all the snow melted—also kind of unusual. Anyway, the rain was driving the dogs crazy. They wanted out, then they wanted right back in. They finally decided to follow me around everywhere I went. I was working in the den for a while; they decided to eat Christmas tree decorations. Fortunately I got to them before they actually swallowed anything.
Because of the rain I too spent most of the day in the house. I did something I rarely do—I watched the news. What I see on the news is some guy in Australia decides it is a good idea to take over a coffee shop, complete with hostages. He is claiming to be some kind of Muslim cleric. I have nothing against Muslims. What I do have a problem with is someone pulling a stunt like this “in the name of God”. God is the living embodiment of compassion, not a supporter of thugs and murders.
This was a tragedy for the two people who died and their families, as well as all the hostages. I refuse to believe that God intended that people who just wanted some coffee should die for it. Either the perpetrator had a very distorted notion of what God wants or he was mentally ill.
I have nothing against people with mental illness either. In fact, much of my adult life I worked providing treatment services to mentally ill people. Additionally, I had my own struggle with depression—which I wrote about in my book “In Pursuit of Joy” I know that the vast majority of mentally ill people are quite harmless to anyone but themselves. That is why this kind of thing really bugs me. It gives mentally ill people a bad reputation. They have enough problems to deal with without someone loudly demonstrating to everyone that mentally ill people can be dangerous. Again, only a small percentage of mentally ill people are dangerous.
So there you have it. Either this perpetrator had a badly distorted notion of what God wants or he was mentally ill. I won’t use his name because I think he doesn’t deserve to be remembered. However, his act should be remembered. Every time someone murders someone “in the name of God”, every time someone shoots up a school, every time someone commits some heinous act, I suggest this: Don’t give in to the fear and anger. Keep working on yourself. Show compassion and gratitude in the world. If each of us would do that perhaps someday we won’t have such terrible events.