On Sunday, not anticipating the events that would unfold in Las Vegas later that day, I listened to the July 24, 2008 episode of Speaking of Faith (now On Being), hosted by Krista Tippet. Tippet’s guest for that episode was Dr. Stuart Brown, who is the Director of the National Institute For Play. Brown is educated as both a neurologist and psychiatrist.
I had listened to this episode a dozen times or more. The purpose of Brown’s institution is to generate new research, gather existing research, and correlate data about play, as it relates to the modern human condition. I have always appreciated Brown’s view that play among children, often rough and tumble play, is a necessary element in preparing a child for the rigors of adulthood.
Brown, by the way, was part of the psychiatric team who attempted a postmortem profile of Charles Whitman – our nation’s 1st, but no longer the our most successful sniper of innocents. So, Sunday night when I began hearing cursory details of the tragedy in Las Vegas, thoughts of Charles Whitman were fresh in my mind.
Brown, who has studied more death-row inmates than any other psychiatrist, suggests that an absence of play as children, and subsequently as adults is one of many commonalities that premeditated murderers share. As I was chewing on this, and watching the body count rise, I reflected on all the play I did as a child, and all I continue to do each day of my life – and I am grateful for play.
On Saturday – the day prior to the tragedy in Las Vegas, I had listened to an interview with Martin Amis. Amis, after the events of 9/11, wrote a series of essays for the New Yorker incorporating facts and a fair amount of conjecture about the men who perpetrated the attacks on September 11, 2001 in the days leading up to those tragedies.
In this interview, Amis spoke about his need to wait a fair amount of time before writing about 9/11. He suggested that a good deal of time is necessary to allow the soul to cool to an even place, and to provide opportunity for facts to solidify. In short, Amis suggested that after great tragedy, one should be measured in their speech.
So, I here I sit this morning, with all kinds of thoughts about Las Vegas, our country, our cultures and subcultures. I am desiring to speak intelligently, but am still unable to think clearly. So, as Amis suggests, I’ll allow time to pass, facts to solidify, and my emotions to stabilize.
I am though, struck by the this…
In the two days prior to Las Vegas, my mid was already on tragedy – on mass killings in particular, and in the need to be measured with my speech in their aftermath. I guess that’s just where we’re at… Jhciacb
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