I've been away for the past few weeks, travelling Greyhound and seeing family. This article is partially about Loughner, partially about me, and partially about God.
This may sound bizarre, but I think, to a very small degree, I can empathize with Loughner.
Loughners obsession with Giffords, according to his friend Tierney and Mother Jones, had almost nothing to do with any political movement. In fact, Loughner himself asked Giffords "what is government if words have no meaning?" When she inadequately answered his question, he became very angry at her, often calling her a "fake" in the presence of his good friend Tierney.
Loughner was mostly a loner, living largely by himself. Thus, he tended to encounter the worse side of people, the side that wants to control and push away. He also never really be He himself was a control freak, even keeping a dream journal to look for hints in how to control his mind, which he had faith in as a source of another reality he could conquer for himself. His obsession with words indicate a kind of politicization in its strictest meaning, but not the one we would be familiar with, rather the kind of politicization one would find in office politics or academic politics, the politicization of someone with no ideology and a lot of lust for power. In his safe, according to the AP, was found the name Giffords, next to his signature.
Why do I say I may empathize with him? After encountering someone ironically very similar to many profiles of Loughner, academic, obsessive, paranoid, and having a hard time with a Greyhound bus company where the employees take priviliges paying customers are not entitled to, and being told I wasn't humble enough, and being isolated from nearly everyone, I contemplated a killing spree, just because I felt, after 48 hours on a bus run by a company that had me totally under their control and didn't even permit me to drink alcohol or cuss or be five minutes late for the bus when I'm getting food but finds it quite reasonable to not keep a parts shed for when the windshield motors break down in Montana, like a total slave, and wanted something, anything, for myself. Everyone around me was rude, vicious, and would hurt me over anything. If I got in to an argument with one of these powder kegs, I would be kicked off the bus for making noise. I thought of bombing Greyhound especially, just to put them out of business. Eventually my desire for the blood for others turned to a desire for the blood of myself, when we came to a canyon out in North Dakota for a rest stop, and I looked down and contemplated jumping.
What stopped me from jumping? The thought of my mother crying. What stopped me from contemplating further a killing spree? The thought of my parents shamed. I felt like a marked man, having such horrible, capital thoughts, thoughts of actions that can bring shame to not only me but my loved ones, of such actions that both can and should lead a person to death, and also how easy then it seemed for a person to be totally disposable and hated, and for a long time I cried silently. I called my father, and that made me feel better, but still, the shame of having such an awful thought, the fear of such thoughts, and the realization of just how pointless people suddenly seemed at all levels, combined with an already stressed psyche, brought me nearly to suicide.
Later on, we encountered the little small town of Alexandria, Minnesota. We were only there for ten minutes, but a lady helped me when my coffee cup exploded, the driver kidded me around about my fear that someone would steal my laptop, and overall the warmth and openness touched my heart. I also heard a story, at the register, of a man from Tennessee who was traveling to Seattle by Greyhound and ended up being so sick and tired of the bus that he got off it, and is still living in Alexandria! And that's when I realized just how valuable people were, how complicated, loving, faithful, interesting and all other things people can really be, and why they would be so valued in the eyes of God. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." (Matthew 5: 13, NIV)
In addition, soon after one of the people who made me feel bad got his! That made me feel even better.
But back to Loughner, whose name could be pronounced "loner" in some languages, he was a very nihilistic man. "If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem." -Loughner. In High School he engaged in drinking nearly to the point of death, and smoked marijuana nearly every day while talking to friends about conspiracy theories. He believed in very little. He was very atheist, and believed people were essentially sheep herded by government. Not only did he believe that God didn't exist, he didn't even believe the world existed. He didn't like guns until he finally wanted to use them. He apparently did volunteer time at a Book Festival, but his political diatribes were highly incoherent, and his obsession was always with control and meaning. He believed in nothing, and a little rudeness from Gifford was all it took.
Loughner had no one, and he saw only one side of people. According to neighbors and the AP, he "kept to himself and was often seen walking his dog, almost always wearing a hooded sweat shirt and listening to his iPod." He loved nothing but control. And how could he love more? His view of what was important was so small, so limited, so, in fact, meaningless. "The question [to Giffords] was classic Jared: confrontational, nonsensical and obsessed with how words create reality." -Two friends of Loughner and AP.
People have meaning, and are beautiful even though they are also somewhat evil in their actions and thoughts, God looks after even Cain (Genesis 4:15), and soon Loughner will get to find out just how much meaning words can have when the judge passes sentence against him. He will get to see how meaningful government can really be, and maybe some fine day the meaning of that beautiful little girl he shot dead will haunt him in his sleep when he can no longer control his dreams and his "second reality" is filled with images of his tragic and evil past, and he finds all around him that he lives entirely in what he has already done.