Today, I will wear an orange and maroon ribbon as part orange and maroon effect day. I’ve even changed the theme of my site to orange and maroon for the day. We are all finding ways to process this event in our own manner. Some of us have deep felt grief of our own. Others have strong empathy for those most closely tied to the event and their grief.

I’m on a wide array of mailing lists, group psychotherapists, videographers, media reform activists, political activists, and so on. Many of these groups are dealing with different aspects of what went on.

The political activists are talking about gun control and what the reactions of different presidential candidates say about their campaigns. Media reform activists and videographers are talking about the news coverage and whether or not they would have shown the shooter’s multimedia manifesto.

One person mentioned Kevin Whitrick. Kevin was a 42 year old divorced electrical engineer who committed suicide in a video chat room in England last month.

Visitors to the site said that they thought he was joking when he told them of his suicide plan. One said: “He tied a rope around an uncovered ceiling joist and stood on the chair as he tied the rope around his neck. Some of us chat-room users, talking to Kevin over text chat, microphones and video, tried to convince him to stop, but others egged him on, telling him to get on with it.

“We just couldn’t believe he was doing it — it was surreal. One chatter said, ‘F***ing do it, get on with it, get it round your neck. For f***’s sake, he can’t even do this properly.’ ” Another visitor to the site who did not wish to be named said: “When Kevin stepped off the chair and was left dangling, the mood in the chat room changed and people began to realise what they had seen. I think someone contacted the police, but sadly no one could get to him in time.”

Over on the media reform list, the discussion has moved on from thoughts about Don Imus and media consolidation to whether or not there is anything incongruous about Christina Aguilera’s fight to end violence against women. People have pointed out her good work on a wide range of issue, while others have questioned how this relates to her collaboration with a music industry that promotes objectification of women

I’ve been trying to find ways to pull all of this together, when I got one email which pulled it together in a frightening manner. “Do any of you remember the Milgram experiments?” the writer asked.

It seems to me that deep with in all of us we are capable of violence, cruelty murder etc.(note the bullying in schools) Most of us have better defenses to contain and keep these at bay.

So, while I share grief with the families of Virginia Tech, outrage with the fans of Rutgers and puzzlement with those contemplating Christina Aguilera’s work, I also recognize my own capacity for cruelty.

Matthew 5:22 comes to mind:

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

We all have the capacity for violence and cruelty and we all have different ways of dealing with it. We can talk about the media or changing laws. We can do charitable works to balance out our capacity for evil. Yet, I think my friend is wise in encouraging us to all acknowledge our capacity for evil, as part of our efforts to build better defenses to contain them and keep them at bay.

As I read the emails and thought about them, Richard Shindell’s song confession comes to mind

I really like this counter, Doc
It's so much more discrete
It's nice you made a place here
Where the customer is free
To talk about a problem with a bit more privacy
Better service

Reminds me of confession
When I used to go to church
I used to go to therapy
But who needs all that work
The one is too much reading
The other too much pain
But now I'm happy

Hey Doc
How's about a refill
Hey Doc
The pretty little blue pill
Hey Doc
How's about a refill

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