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Adkisson’s Assault On A Unitarian Church Stirs Recollections, Raises Questions

Last Sunday Jim David Adkisson, a 58 year-old unemployed truck driver from the town of Powell, Tennessee, entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville with a 12 gauge shotgun and started firing at parents and friends who had come to see their kids in a church play. The information set off a sequence of associations for me, as a result of I am a Unitarian-Universalist, and, like these dad and mom in Knoxville, I had often sat within the sanctuary of our church, the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut, watching my children, clad in makeshift costumes cobbled from outdated curtains and junk jewelry, struggling to recollect their strains and overcome their shyness as they tromped across the stage, performing out some parable that they had cooked up with the youth advisors, celebrating themes expensive to their coronary heart akin to social justice, love, and respect for all people of all kinds and shapes and colors. Immediately my youngsters have grown and moved away, but I still discover solace in a Unitarian Universalist church, this one in East Greenwich Rhode Island. My wife is pastor there.

The taking pictures also drew my attention because, as a professor at a school of social work, I devote a lot of my time to the study of violent incidents. Having just lately completed a book about college rampage shootings, I discovered myself, like so many others, making an attempt to know what had driven Adkisson to perform such a determined act. Whereas this had elements in common with “office shootings,” it additionally resembled many of the college shootings I write about in my ebook. Others might categorize it as the work of a “Home grown terrorist.” Perhaps these categories have more in frequent than criminologists have supposed.

I argue in my guide that as a result of the college shooters were adolescents, they have been involved in that psychosocial crisis which the psychoanalyst Erik Eriksson known as “id formation versus id diffusion.” They decided to commit an act of violence against themselves (and others) as a result of they noticed no future within the adult world. Adkisson was 58, in the midst of the stage which Eriksson called “Center Adulthood,” whose psychosocial disaster he outlined as “generativity versus stagnation.” By generativity he meant not merely having youngsters but contributing to the institution and steering of the following era. Such work may contain educating, leading a youth group, or serving on the board of a not-for-revenue. Stagnation may consult with a worker who remains in a job that has lost all meaning, or a wife trapped in a loveless marriage. The following stage in Erikson’s schema, the crisis of old age, consists of “integration versus despair.” Erikson made the point that all these crises are occurring at each age, however some take precedence during certain intervals of an individual’s life. In response to some sources, Adkisson was alcoholic and subject to lingering dark moods. Alcoholism is usually associated with getting developmentally “stuck,” on the age when the drinking started. Was he an adolescent walking around in grown-up cothes

News experiences counsel that Adkisson was a man for whom life now not appeared value dwelling. School shooters reach this state after years of being bullied, abused physically or sexually, and rejected by peers and girlfriends. Social awkwardness, psychiatric issues and learning disabilities further aggravate the state of stone island opening times affairs. Adkisson had failed in relationships (he had not too long ago been divorced by his fourth or fifth spouse) and failed vocationally (he had lost his job and could not find one other.) His food stamps had been terminated, making survival troublesome.

Second, he wished revenge in opposition to those who had deprived him of his work, his social stature, his technique of survival. Faculty shooters lengthy to get again at the children who tormented and excluded them, and teachers who treated them unjustly. The eminent criminologist Park Dietz has spoken of the danger inherent in this situation:

When any person has so little to lose, so that it all appears meaningless to them, then they’re doubtless to consider revenge as having appreciable value. They may think of suicide as an escape from all of it. That’s a terrible combination, being suicidal and wanting revenge. That is at the guts of most of the workplace and faculty mass murders of the last 20 years. (Park Dietz, as quoted within the Hook, December four, 2003)

Third, Adkisson had created a “sham ideology,” a theory to support the violence he was ready to commit. For school shooters, this usually consists of some garbled “philosophy” justifying homicide. It is usually compounded from a misreading of Nietzsche and Ayn Rand, and too many viewings of the Oliver Stone film, Pure Born Killers. Adkisson’s manifesto, a 4 web page letter left in his SUV, blamed Liberals much the country’s woes. Those of us who’ve followed the Bush administration’s unraveling of the security web and re-allotment of the Federal price range to corporate welfare and the conflict in Iraq found ourselves scratching our heads. The information that Adkisson’s most latest ex-spouse had as soon as been a member of the congregation he had attacked offered a clue to how these antithetical ideas might have change into conflated.

Black and white considering oversimplifies the world in harmful ways. Intelligent spin doctors have been driving a wedge into our physique politic for many years, convincing us that Liberals think about everything a technique, and Conservatives one other, and there isn’t any overlap. But this is a lie designed to polarize voters. Even within Unitarian-Universalism, the religion Garrison Keillor evokes each time he needs to make a joke about Lefties gone wild, folks hold views that range all throughout the political and cultural spectrum. There are pro-life atheists, and theists who assist assisted suicides. A lot of the school shooters have been raised in bible-belt communities where habits was equally divided into extremes. You might be good or you could be evil. You could possibly be part of Workforce Jesus, or play for Satan.

Another factor motivated Adkisson: the hope that he would be killed by law males during his Sunday morning assault. He said in his letter that he hoped he wouldn’t leave the church alive. In other phrases, where we see a tragic, meaningless murder of the innocent, Adkisson, beneath the brittle shell of his narcissism, saw a suicide attempt. Some of the college shooters dedicated suicide after finishing their shootings while others hoped the police would do the job for them.

Suicide by cop.

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When males who derive their self-respect from being able to provide for their households are deprived of the privilege, they often query the which means of their lives. Generally they contemplate suicide. A falling Dow-Jones traditionally correlates with a rising suicide fee, and vice-versa. A latest Huffington submit by Barbara Ehrenreich investigates the problem of suicide and the current monetary crisis in depth. Between unemployment, the sub-prime mortgage disaster, the weakened greenback, a swelling national debt, a vanishing safety internet and a expensive conflict, the outlook is grim.