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Monday, January 10, 2011

Gift wrapped pathology

Gift Wrapped Pathology

"The pathology is already there. Ideology becomes the gift-wrapping..."

I don't know enough about the man who attacked me in a church parking lot to know just how pathologically disturbed he was. That he was a disturbed individual was apparent from casual observation on other occasions. But how disturbed, how ill, I honestly can't say.

What I DO know is that hate speech and violent discourse became the "gift-wrapping" that others exploited and prompted him to turn his disturbance on me, to turn me into his victim.

In the weeks leading up to that attack, the vitriol in our local environment had been raised to a toxic level. Hate, threats, and incivility was rampant around us. I felt cornered by it and completely unsupported by the authorities upon whom one in my position would normally depend for back-up.

In fact, during that last month before the attack reckless words had been committed to paper that, in the words of one of this country's leading experts on church conflict, "made it open season on Pastor Jan."

Today, in the wake of the Tucson tragedy a leading authority on hate and violence in this country described the shooter as someone who was deranged and for whom some convoluted, not necessarily right-wing, just twisted, ideology had become the "gift wrapping" on that pathology. It made sense. He was deranged and found his focus by whatever means, and she became his target. He was vulnerable. That vulnerability was exploited. And he opened fire.

That's what happened to me. With fists, not a gun, thank Jesus.

Two things. We must become vigilant in identifying those who are deranged and capable of violent acts. And we must be determined to NOT exploit that psychosis for our own means.

Second, there are a LOT of women and men like me out here in America tonight, and last night, and the night before who aren't sleeping. Instead, we are seeing again those faces of rage, we are feeling the wounds of our trauma. And it will continue like this for awhile. Pray for us too.

And pray for all those anonymous victims of the Tucson shooting, the survivors of whom we've heard mostly nothing, who are going to be facing demons of their own for years to come.

And, in my usual attempt to find something humorous to say about my traumatic experience, let me close with this, directed mostly to those who authorized and encouraged my attacker,

"I've upped my meds. Up yours."

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