Sunday, July 22, 2012

Open Letter From The Massacreist

by Debra Mares

Like the rest of the world, I am deeply saddened by Friday's Santa Barbara Massacre by Elliot Rodger.  I'm even more saddened then when I wrote this almost identical post relating to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Connecticut and also the Batman Movie Massacre in 2012.  My sadness runs deeper because of the randomness of this shooting and the undercurrents of violence against young women, college sorority students and innocent bystanders in a nearby college town hours north of where I live.

On Friday, 22 year-old Elliot Rodger, a Woodland Hills resident and Santa Barbara City College student, opened fire in Isla Vista, a small college town near Santa Barbara, killing seven people, including himself.  He stabbed three students at the apartment he shared with them, before embarking on a shooting rampage leaving three more dead and 13 injured.  His parents alerted law enforcement a week prior once they became concerned about Elliot posting videos threatening suicide and killings.  After being alerted by Elliot's therapist about a 144 page manifesto he emailed detailing his intentions shortly before his mass murders, his parents alerted law enforcement and rushed to Isla Vista, but it was too late.

Massacres like this are reminiscent of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Connecticut, the Batman Movie Massacre, 1999 Columbine High School Massacre and the 2011 Tucson shooting where U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was injured.  They spark old debates over gun control, mental health issues, bullying, prescription drug abuse, social outcasts and the effects of violent social media.  They move us to push for answers, seek justice and demand social change.  But at the end of the day, blame properly lies with one person - the Massacreist himself.  Tragedies try to harden us.  But the worst tragedy of all is when they succeed.  

Inspired by the writing technique seen in Al-Anon's "Open Letter From The Alcoholic," I share again this fictional help letter as a tool to bring awareness to the issues surrounding massacres.  Feel free to share it, debate it, or rewrite it to include your own views.

Open Letter From The Massacreist

Dear Victims, Friends, Family & World,

I’m an anti-social psychopath.

I’ve had a pattern since childhood of disregarding others, even though you didn’t notice.

I could never keep a friendship going, because I didn’t care about people’s feelings.

All I care about is me, even though I hate myself. 

I can’t stand being frustrated when something doesn’t go my way, so I deal with it using violence.

And I don’t feel guilty.  I don’t even know what that feels like.

To rationalize my actions, I believe my problems are everyone else’s fault, even when they’re not.

There’s nothing you could have done to stop me, because I don’t respond to punishment.

It will take me decades to come to terms with what I did and understand what caused it.  Don’t waste your time trying to make sense of it, because I won’t be.

I don’t even know what remorse or empathy is.  I may never understand how to put myself in someone else’s shoes.

Don’t blame my family.  They raised me the best they could.  And they’ll carry the guilt from my actions for life.

Do pray for them along with my victims and their families, because I won’t be.  I’ll be feeling sorry for myself and thinking how the world is still against me.  

Do tell them to forgive me; not for me, but to free themselves from the prison I've sentenced them to.

Don’t blame the lack of security at the venue I chose.  

No matter what measures could have been taken, there will always be a place for me to carry out my anger against society.  Malls, schools, trains, buses, libraries, churches, airports, open markets, theaters, stadiums - I would’ve picked one.

Don't blame pharmaceutical drug companies and doctors.

Even if prescription drugs weren't on the market, I could have gotten my hands on street drugs.

Do write your lawmakers about regulating pharmacies, drug companies and doctors.  The lack of oversight in the system made it easy for me to abuse it.

Do take serious anyone who has a drug problem and seek professional help.  Many massacreists abuse drugs before carrying out their attack.

Don’t blame the gun manufactures.

Even if these guns were outlawed, I could have gotten my hands on other means to accomplish my goal.  That is the cost of living in a free society.

Do write your lawmakers about regulating firearm and ammunition purchases online, because that’s where I got most of mine. 

Do communicate openly with kids about guns.  Do take serious a child’s interest in guns and encourage safety, responsibility, and training.

Do try and identify people like me and get us the proper treatment.  And do look for warning signs.  

Do take serious anyone who jokes, talks, or fantasizes about a planned attack to carry out a shooting.  Do report them to police.  

Do take bullying serious.  Do educate yourself about it.  When kids discuss bullying with a parent, they are usually minimizing it; so assume it’s worse.  Many massacreists feel bullied, persecuted or injured by others before they attack.

Do take serious anyone who has a problem with anger, depression or suicide.  Many massacreists have considered suicide in the past.  We have problems dealing with loss and failure.

Do know what your child is viewing on the internet.  Pay attention to the level of violence in the video games, YouTube videos, music and movies they download.  These things desensitize kids to violence and can increase aggression.

Do speak openly with others about what I did and pay attention to their reactions and opinions.

Do look for signs of anger towards society by visiting our homes, looking at our blogs, social media, journals, and snooping through our rooms.  Most attacks are planned out months in advance.

Do carry out the maximum appropriate punishment against me under the law.  It honors what our society stands for - life, liberty and happiness - what I took away from my victims.

The best place for me is in prison.  But even there, I’m capable of harming the people around me and the people in charge of taking care of me.  Consider seriously the death penalty.  

And to those thinking about carrying out a massacre, get help NOW.  The pain I’ve caused is irreparable.  Your deranged thinking is like earwax.  You can’t see it, but it’s a problem, and I’m telling you it’s there.  Trust me.  Do something about it.


Your Massacreist

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Man Book: Why Women Gift Books To The Men They Love

by Debra Mares

I’ve been in love three times. (Warning: this may include illusions!).  I’ve dated many others; but interestingly, these three men are the ONLY men I have ever gifted a book to.  So I’m curious; what is behind women gifting books to the men they love, a.k.a. The Man Book?  
A book lasts forever.  It tells a story that stays with you.  It can help you.  And motivate you.  Books can shift your thinking.  They can help you relax.  And escape reality, stepping into the shoes of another.  Books inspire you.
The books I gave to these three men were from entirely different genres; almost as different as the men were from one another.  But all the books were gifted to inspire and fuel a passion within them.  Indeed, each of these men had moved me; and I wanted to move them.  

The first book I gave was to my now ex-husband.  We'll call him Music Man.  The book I chose was This Business of Music by Krasilovsky, Shemel & Gross.  Music Man was struggling to follow his dream and make it big in the music industry.  Those in the business know it’s a lot of hard work to get to the top.  Executives all start in the same place - the mailroom.  There’s no short cuts and no free passes, regardless of who you are or where you came from.  I was moved to gift this book to motivate, inspire and educate him.  He read from the book a couple times. And ironically after we parted ways, the book was left behind (in my bookshelf); as seemed his dream. 

The second book I gave was to my now ex-long-term-boyfriend.  We’ll call him Superman.  Our relationship was budding at the time.  I wanted to give Superman something that would be useful and drop a hint of my interest without being too obvious.  A book seemed like the right fit.  So I scoured the store bookshelves looking for that perfect one.  I chose Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America, a cookbook by Jose Andres.  It suited his passion and showed my affection for him.  His love of cooking flourished throughout our relationship.  Superman even grew a garden.  He cracked the cookbook open a couple times to whip up tapas dishes.  And it stayed on his bookshelf after the breakup.

The third book I gave was to a man I went on a handful of dates with.  We’ll call him Fifty Shades of Grey.  Without him even knowing, Fifty Shades inspired much of my personal growth in the recent past years.  He became one of my writing muses.  I browsed Amazon for the perfect book for him.  I chose Lance Armstrong’s Comeback 2.0: Up Close & Personal.  Fifty Shades had a passion for cycling.  And like Armstrong who had inspired the cycling world through his battle with cancer, Fifty Shades had shifted something in my Universe.  He eventually became Somebody That I Used To Know; so if I ever bump into him, maybe I’ll ask him if he ever read or kept the book. 

Testing my theory why women give books to men they love, I asked my thirty-something single friend if she had ever gifted a book to a man.  She responded, “Yes, once.”  I knew exactly who she was talking about - an ex-boyfriend she cared for deeply.  We'll call him Fisherman.  She chose The Greatest Fishing Stories Ever Told by Lamar Underwood.  Fishing for the next big Tuna was his passion.  She said she gifted it not only to inspire him to fish more, but to read more.  She's an avid reader herself.  Fisherman kept, read and enjoyed the stories.

Sharing stories with those we love, including men, is one of the greatest gifts; at least from a woman's perspective.  Because we love to motivate, inspire and move ours truly.  
What do you think?  Have you ever gifted a book to someone you love?  What was the genre or subject matter?  Why did you pick that book?  Has anyone ever gifted you a book?  What feelings accompanied you giving or receiving?  Men! ...what do you think of women gifting books to you?  

I'd love to hear your comments at