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A Tragic Expression

I was devastated to hear back in February the news of three men hijacking a sail boat and killing the couple on board. As someone who is fiercely interested/curious in why people do what they do; what heaves people into the choices they make (unconscious or conscious) what drives, motivates, activates people to commit uncomprehensive acts of violence; I wanted to know why, why, why this happened especially within context of one of the men who was known to me.

While house sitting on the other side of the island I ran into the yachters whose boat was beside the boat hijacked, survivors guilt was evident as they struggled with, ‘if only we stayed up longer on deck, the couple would still be alive.’ I will not forget the woman’s bewilderment painted across her face while asking me, ‘why did they have to kill them?” I held her eyes in mine and shook my head meeting her dark confusion with my own.

I knew at that moment she did not want or need to hear what I’d been writing and reflecting days after the incident ie my belief that all behaviors, actions are an attempt to get our human needs met, an attempt to be seen, heard, felt, validated, acknowledged, essentially to be loved, to belong even if the strategies to meet those needs are violently harmful, monstrous. She did not want or need to hear my beliefs around atrocious acts of group violence motivated by the human need to belong preceded by the fear of excommunication, kicked out of the group, an existential death. She did not want or need to hear what I’d been reflecting/writing re: how we humans need to be loved, seen, accepted within the entirety of our wholeness (the good, the bad the broken, the ugly, the beauty) and when this is not met early stages, throughout childhood and throughout our lives this can have devastating effects, this can cause monstrous behaviors.

As I write this I hear the voice of a close family member in my head who grew up sexually abused as a child by his father and a catholic priest, this family member who carried this secret to his grave, who would be the first to say we all have choice and yet I know deep in his soul he understood that choice was not accessible to him even with all the privilege he held, that such deep acts of disembodiment deadened his capacity to choose other than violence; added to this, the righteous legal and religious systems having us believe otherwise, throwing us into deeper and deeper shame. And that this family member as an adult chose violence due to incomprehensible shame coursing through his viens and the viens of his irish ancestors…

The monstrous behavior of these men, a tragic expression of human needs somewhere in their early childhood and onward not met, needs such as belonging, autonomy, self-preservation, self respect, connection (it takes a village/society/culture/deeply embedded systems living in all of us) I believe Marshal Rosenberg’s (founder of nonviolent communication) words, “violence is a tragic expression of human needs not met.” and Parker Palmer’s, “violence is suffering unheard.” This does not mean there should not be accountability for these men’s brutal actions however, it is saying there is so much more we need to understand, so much more we need to unpack, unlearn of our deep conditioned patterns that have us defaulting to same old story lines: good vs evil, righteousness vs wickedness, monster vs angel…

There is so much more to be shared here, the complexity, chaos mayem of this, right here! And this is the the path I’m on and the passion I hold while never forgetting the exquisiteness of all of us, all of us….

maureen st.clair

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