In the wake of Elliot Rodger’s horrific acts last Friday, many conversations, speculations and debates have arisen in a fragmented effort to answer these questions: who is to blame? Whose fault is it? What could have possibly gone wrong for things to end like this? Who is to blame?
The most obvious answer is Elliot Rodger himself. But many other answers have cropped up: mental illness, Elliot’s parents, a poor mental health care system, Congress and weak gun control laws, lack of proper police intervention, media portrayals of women and male bravado, a perverse and toxic cocktail of entitlement and rejection, past hurtful experiences… the list goes on. Who, or what, is to blame?
But it is increasingly difficult to find a simple answer. And this is a question that I am ever-eager to answer, not because I wish to glamorize or defend him or his actions in any way, but because I believe truth is out there. We live in an age that inconclusively examines the grays and relative truths, but I am not satisfied with that: absolute, concrete truth. Must. Be. Out. There. And these truths are vital not only to understanding who we are as human beings, but also what our purpose is and what we ought to fight for and fight against.
I want to know the answer to this question. On Tuesday, despite having two papers and a blog post to write and classes to attend, I opted instead to sit in Ackerman TV room and read Rodger’s 137-page manifesto—if it can even be called that. And after reading, my heart—infuriated and deeply grieved for those who have suffered and died at Rodger’s hands and words—instantly told and continues to tell me that it is his fault. He chose to act in the way he did. He chose to post those videos, to take up his weapons, step into his car and slaughter people.
Yet he was hurt. He was rejected. He was exposed to a skewed perception of sex and gendered identity at a very young age, and believed in and despaired of lies that were fed to him. He was mentally ill. My fists clench and my jaw tightens in my reluctance to type out, admit, these things. But they are true. No, they do not in any way justify his actions, but they are still true.
We cannot shy away from truth for the sake of convenience, politeness, or fear. When we ask this question—not just in the case of Elliot Rodgers, but every day—it is so easy to point fingers, but we do not want to think of ourselves as being a part of the problem. Much of the reason why problems persist rests in our own failure to take responsibility for our actions. And even if we don’t, someone always has to pay.
To work towards combating these horrors and evils, we must get its to the root. And we must recognize and take ownership of the hand we all take in perpetuating it. We are all of us victims of something or someone. Yet we have all made victims of someone else. Who’s to blame? Who knows. What are you going to do about it? The choice is yours.
Post submitted by Michelle