How Can I Believe in Basic Human Goodness?

Via on Dec 14, 2012

I don’t know what to say right now.

I don’t know how to make sense of this.

Earlier today, a man came into an elementary school not far from me and killed 27 people. He killed 20 children. And I’m sitting here wondering what the fuck to tell my first and third grader. And I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that this is more carnage than our state is equipped to handle. And I wish I could cry, but I’m just too… I just can’t yet. I’m stunned.

I believe in basic human goodness. I believe that all people are basically good, and that because we are in pain or angry or have mental illness, sometimes we are capable of horrible acts.

But then I look at the news and think, “How can I believe this man was basically good?”

How can I believe that this world is a good, safe place to be?

But I do.

I believe it because of all of the calls and texts I got from out of state friends wanting to know if we are okay. I believe it because of the immediate outpouring of neighboring states to help the Newtown community. I believe it because that is my anchor. I believe it because it is true.

I believe that anyone who could do what Adam Lanza did today is in the darkest place a person could be, and more than anything else, I feel compassion for him. The immense pain and hatred that must be in a heart that could gun down elementary school classrooms is more pain than I can possible imagine.

So what do we do when there is nothing we can do? How do we make sense of this? How do we make the horror go away?

We don’t.

We meditate and pray.

We love each other.

We let the pain stay, because that is how we have compassion when it happens to someone else, someplace else.

We sit with our shock, our fear, our horror, our sorrow and look at it. We let it be transformed. We let it deepen our compassion.

To the families who lost children and loved ones today, I sit for you. I’ll sit with this. And cry. And hug my children. And figure out a way to tell them that there was a man who was so sad and angry, that he hurt some people in a school nearby.

To the family of Adam Lanza, I wish you love, deep love that fills you and comforts you. While I cannot imagine losing my child in a shooting, the idea of losing a child because he has inflicted so much pain on others is unfathomable. I will sit for you. I will sit for this and hope you may find peace.

To Adam Lanza, I hope your soul is at peace. I will sit for you. I’ll sit and look at every moment of anger and hatred I’ve had in my life, and know that it was a drop in the bucket of what was going on inside you.

To you, to whoever reads this, thank you. Thank you for taking two minutes to think about something we don’t want to think about. This is how we bring light to each other. This is how we get through. We don’t look away; we look closer. We don’t shut it out; we let it in. We sit with it. We breathe. We feel our raw and tender hearts break open, so that we can let love and compassion pour out.

Thank you.

About Kate Bartolotta

Kate Bartolotta is the strongest girl in the world. She is the love child of a pirate and a roller derby queen. She hails from the second star to the right. Her love of words is boundless, but she knows that many of life’s best moments are completely untranslatable. When she is not writing, you may find her practicing yoga, devouring a book, playing with her children, planting dandelions, or dancing barefoot with her heart on her sleeve. She is madly in love with life and does not know how this story ends; she’s making it up as she goes. Kate is the owner and editor-in-chief of Be You Media Group. She also writes for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Green Divas, Yoganonymous, The Body Project, Project Eve, Thought Catalog and Soulseeds. She facilitates writing workshops and retreats throughout North America. Heart Medicine, Kate's book on writing, is now available on Amazon.com You can follow Kate on Facebook and Twitter

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36 Responses to “How Can I Believe in Basic Human Goodness?”

  1. Beautifully said, Kate. I can't seem to move on with my day until my son gets home and I'm able to give him a huge hug (he'll, no doubt, squirm away from me since he'll be 12 in a few months, but he'll let me hug and kiss him to no end when it's bed time). xo

  2. Kelli Harrington Kelli says:

    Could not agree with you more Kate. I question it too!

  3. Isabella Zornada says:

    I have love and compassion, but today I have none……zero tolerance for bullies and mass murderers…..don't care about your mental state…..your government let you all down…….talk to the hand of the law…then compensate me…….too little too late!

  4. Lina H. says:

    I feel the same way, thanks for expressing it so beautifully.

  5. Jan says:

    Beautifully said, Kate.

  6. outlanderfan says:

    Thank you for this Kate! Very eloquent!

  7. Morgan says:

    Thank you Kate. I have heard such an outpouring of hatred and "eye for an eye" which only continues this cycle of hatred, hurt, and inhumane acts. The world desperately needs compassion and until people make the choice to stop that cycle we will continue to deal with such tragedy. I sit alongside you and pray for the world.

  8. edieyoga says:

    Well said. Well written….it takes courage to say what you did.

  9. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    You're beautiful Kate. Thank you for putting it into writing.

  10. Jenn Grosso Jenn Lui says:

    Thank you for this Kate. Beautifully said. "I sit for you. I’ll sit with this. And cry. And hug my children." Yes…

  11. [...] today. Another school shooting. So many young innocent children. Gone. My son just came home and I hugged him [...]

  12. Katie says:

    Thank you, Kate, for saying what so many are too confused to say. It’s hard to find compassion for such a horrible act, but I, too, believe in the basic human good. Namaste to you, this community, and all of those affected by today’s tragedy.

  13. "We don't look away, we look closer." Thank you for writing this piece….so poignant and clear. Sometimes if takes us feeling our own goodness to reflect it to those that have forgotten…and in some way you have done that for the gunman….which is a deeply moving act of compassion.

  14. [...] think we try to understand these kinds of horrific tragedies by asking “why?” What could have possibly motivated someone to take the lives of [...]

  15. jill says:

    Thank you kate

  16. Lauren says:

    Compassion for the one responsible is near unfathomable for many, but necessary if we are ever going to be proactive as a society rather than reactive. Thank you for your heart in writing on this day.

  17. [...] How Can I Believe in Basic Human Goodness? (elephantjournal.com) Share this:EmailPrintFacebookGoogle +1TwitterPinterestLinkedInStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  18. AnotherPerspective says:

    Via Channel, Intuitive, Healer – Teal Scott
    A Question Submitted Publicly by Jane H., New Jersey

    "Teal, I want to hear what you have to say regarding the school shooting that happened today in Connecticut. I’m desperate to make sense of this seeing as how these shootings have been increasing and a man in China stabbed 22 children on the exact same day! Should we outlaw guns? Help me make sense of this!"

    Teal's Response:

    "This message may be difficult to hear for some of you who read it. But my intention is to cut through the illusions that are causing you to feel fear. I wish to level with you and tell you that there are some things that happen that are too difficult to bear. Despite the fact that there is always a higher purpose for them happening, we do not always see the purpose right away. The pain impacts us, (especially those who are close to the event) on a level where there is nothing left to do but to keep breathing. We suffer when we try to bear the unbearable. In truth, instead of try to “bear it” (which is a glamourized word for resist it) all there is to do is to let the pain of such an event sink deep into our hearts. When we let the pain sink into our hearts, we do not do it so that the pain will make us cold and harder. We do it so that we can let the pain make our hearts softer and warmer so that we may transform the grief into compassion. We consciously surrender to it by letting it soften our hearts like clay. With this compassion, comes the understanding that you seek.
    We must all come to understand that when a person feels as if they are powerless, the natural progression is for them to gain their power back. We call the first stage of this journey the revenge phase. Emotionally, revenge feels better than powerlessness does. In fact, what most people do not want to hear is that revenge is a higher vibration than powerlessness. And so, in a subconscious desperate way, the people who hurt other people are taking an action step to try to find alignment with themselves and to feel better by taking their own power back. The only reason anyone hurts another person is because they, themselves are suffering. We are all the victims of victims. There are frightened, powerless people on both sides of the gun, which is why the perpetrator and the victim are a perfect vibrational match to each other.
    We must also realize that events like this are a wake up call. And it is a wake up call that we often miss. The wake up call is that we are all culpable for crimes such as this. Though there are positive aspects of this human society, there are also aspects of this society that force people into a state of powerlessness. We create the very monsters we condemn… most especially the current school system. This society does not prioritize teaching individuals to stay in alignment with themselves and with their own joy. It teaches conformity. It teaches people to ignore their own internal calling in favor of authority and in favor of what other people think is best. That is a recipe for a rebellion. It is a recipe for disaster. We will keep learning that lesson the hard way until we stop running our society in this way. Do I think that "gun control" is a good idea? In one respect, yes I do. If it were difficult to get them, it would permit more time for the powerful emotions that inspire such actions to settle. It would grant more time for a person’s higher mind to regain control before they act out from a space of intense negative emotion. It is time to be honest about the fact that guns were not created for a positive purpose in the first place. They are a tool of destruction. They are a “tool of fear”. The sooner humanity can let go of fear and the tools that go along with that fear, the better. But, will getting rid of guns make the violence go away? No, because getting rid of guns is a surface level measure. Getting rid of guns does not address the real problem. The real problem is that individuals get to the point where they are feeling desperate and powerless.
    I personally grew up with a man whom lived his life at the mercy of his own fear. In fact I lived at his mercy most of my life as his “victim” and I realized something very, very important. I learned that we cannot eradicate crime from this society by requiring unstable people to take psychiatric medication, by increasing our laws or by locking “perpetrators” away in jail cells. The only way we will eradicate crime of any nature is when suffering is gone from the hearts and lives of these people who we call “perpetrators”. What’s more is that we will only cease to experience crime, if we cease to create suffering in the hearts of the children who are born to us, only to grow from that suffering into perpetrators. Those who choose to kill other people, are separated acutely from their own internal being. These people are not born. They are made. They are made by all of us. They are made by our society and the way that most of us currently live our lives. continued….

    • Louise Brooks says:

      Well, I thought I had heard it all, but saying that the dead little children at Sandy Hook school, 5 year olds created the conditions for their brutal murder, is surely the most appalling, ridiculous, and looney viewpoint said so far. Are you crazy??? You must be. No sane individual would twist and pervert this awful tragic event into such victim-blaming. I am thoroughly disgusted and furious with your shocking conclusions about a mass murder. Shame on you.

      • Kayla says:

        I don't think this person is saying that the children themselves created the conditions, but we, as a society, as a whole people. created the "monsters" we condemn. I think Kate is right when she says that someone must be in the darkest corner of the mind and enveloped in unbearable pain in order to commit such an act. Statements like this do not blame the victim, nor do they take anything away from the victim. What does take away from the victim is talking about the "monster" and creating a comic book-esque perverse glorification around him. This man was a sad sad sad soul who committed an awful act. That should be the end of that discussion. Feeling compassion for him as well as the children is the highest expression of love, unconditional love for fellow man, that we can engage in. But you misunderstand if you equate this with victim blaming and condoning of violence.

        • Louise Brooks says:

          Kayla – "Another perspective" DID say the children created the conditions. Here is the quote:"A murder is a co-creation; it is created by both the victim and the perpetrator. It is a creation even if someone who is just a child is the one who creates it. This society is currently one that reinforces the idea of powerlessness. In my personal opinion, if we want children to stop creating situations in which they become victims, we had better stop teaching them to think and feel powerless. "
          This is a sick and twisted logic.

      • I'm not sure quite what Another Perspective is getting at. I like to keep it simple. More love instead of more hate. I'm also not a big fan of "channeled" information. Say what you want to say and own that it's your perspective.

  19. AnotherPerspective says:

    part II: Teal: It is suffering which creates serial killers. It is suffering which creates mass shooters. It is suffering which creates terrorists. And until our human society stops perpetuating suffering in the multitude of ways that it perpetuates suffering, we will always have murders, mass shootings and terrorism.
    It is understandable that when we are suffering greatly, it does not feel good to remember that we create our own reality. And when we are caught up in the wake of a painful event, it does not feel good to remember that “victims “ also create the experiences that they encounter. No one can “impose” themselves on anyone else’s reality. A murder is a co-creation; it is created by both the victim and the perpetrator. It is a creation even if someone who is just a child is the one who creates it. This society is currently one that reinforces the idea of powerlessness. In my personal opinion, if we want children to stop creating situations in which they become victims, we had better stop teaching them to think and feel powerless.
    While the collection of human consciousness is spinning in the shock and confusion of these events, the energy of well being (the source from which all people come forth) dominates. We have the choice to let these events cause us to focus on what we do not want (thus feeding energy to the problem and also reinforcing powerlessness inside our own hearts); or we have the choice to focus on what we want (thus feeding energy to the solution and fueling love in our own hearts). Whichever direction we choose to focus in, the ripples of that choice will move outwards and effect the rest of the world.
    Society is the sum of its smallest parts! Its smallest parts are individuals. We must let go of the suffering and transform the suffering inside ourselves if we want to create a society, which reflects joy and compassion and peace. While you do not have control over the actions of those who walk into schools and shoot people, you do have control over yourself. And if you make it a priority to stay in alignment with yourself and with what makes you happy, you will never be so disconnected that you will cause other people pain. You can check yourself off the list of names of those who contribute to the suffering on this planet, and you can add your name to the list of people who contribute to the wellness of this planet."

  20. Carol Horton carolhortonbooks says:

    Kate, I agree. Thank you for your work in the world.

  21. [...] 2. Take a moment to send your thoughts and loving support to all those who have undergone such a tra… [...]

  22. Yes, to be the parent of the perpetrator or the victim is an unbearable sorrow. The reasons for things become increasingly complicated as the world becomes more entrenched in complexities. There is no simple fix as we are all dependent upon another for our sustenance so to speak. My kids are grown but I am no less worried about their futures. When they are here I do not sleep until wheels pull in the driveway. We understand one another as parents. No race or religion or culture divides us when a parent is only as joyful as their unhappiest or most unfortunate child.

  23. Meghan says:

    Thank you, Kate.

  24. beautifully said. thank you, Kate.

  25. mike says:

    It's a combination of 2 things. Understanding & Restriction. Australias last mass shooting was over 20 years ago. We decided that automatic weapons should be banned effective immediately as we valued peoples lives to much. Hand & shot guns were bought back by the government aswell & since then no mass shootings….funny that! We also need to understand & nuture those that are mentally troubled. No one is inherently evil…just unwell. We need to help eachother out. Check in, take care & nuture. Until then we haven't earn't the right to bear arms.

  26. meribeth says:

    thank you. ♥

  27. James says:

    I needed to read that as much as you needed to write it. Thank you, Kate.

  28. [...] is a driving force behind many of the newest youth initiatives. Its national headquarters is in Newtown, just a few miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where Adam Lanza, 20, used his mother’s Bushmaster AR-15 to kill 20 children and sux adults last [...]

  29. [...] But this, I simply can not understand. [...]

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