Vanity of reason rewrite

EDIT: Obviously, I’ve let this one lie… After catching my breath to be in a place to do a rewrite, the moment pretty much passed. Although, given more time for the opeditors to get their footing, predictably they did start spinning tragedy into policy gold. Witness this Globe piece from 4/26 (Our addiction to violence) that clumsily ties the massacre to Iraq. My basic point — that our need for meaning gets in the way of understanding — stands. (updated 5/2/07)

I’ve gotten some really great responses and feedback to my last post. It’s been particularly great hearing from folks who have shared similar experiences, as I think many of us either feel shame/stigma about mental illness and addiction in the family, or don’t want to discomfort others with talking about it. (Sorta like how we aren’t supposed to talk about hemorrhoids in polite company, I guess.)

I’m hoping to polish it for potential publication somewhere, so suggestions for sharpening the point are very welcome! I intentionally went for a lyrical style in this first draft, and I agree with the suggestions that whittling down to a single point would help make it more salient to a mainstream audience.

What’s the point I’m trying to make here? I guess I’m agreeing with psychologists that we aren’t going to find many answers in trying to parse Mr. Cho’s video and manifesto. There’s a larger point: our feelings about justice demand that we get those answers. Consider the case of Panetti v. Quarterman currently before the Supreme Court: we purport to peer into an insane murderers’ mind to satisfy some formal legalism. But the result is not satisfying, and it keeps us in a place of denial about mental illness.

That’s why I reference the Book of Job. Our cause-and-effect explanations for evil pale before God-in-the-whirlwind. We lack faith in a truer Justice and so try to make do with puny Reason.

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