Adkisson’s Assault On A Unitarian Church Stirs Recollections, Raises Questions
Last Sunday Jim David Adkisson, a fifty eight year-old unemployed truck driver from the city of Powell, Tennessee, entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville with a 12 gauge shotgun and started firing at dad and mom and buddies who had come to see their kids in a church play. The information set off a sequence of associations for me, because I am a Unitarian-Universalist, and, like these mother and father in Knoxville, I had usually sat within the sanctuary of our church, the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut, watching my kids, clad in makeshift costumes cobbled from outdated curtains and junk jewelry, struggling to remember their traces and overcome their shyness as they tromped across the stage, appearing out some parable they had cooked up with the youth advisors, celebrating themes dear to their coronary heart akin to social justice, love, and respect for all individuals of all kinds and shapes and colors. Right this moment my children have grown and moved away, but I still find solace in a Unitarian Universalist church, this one in East Greenwich Rhode Island. My spouse is pastor there.
The capturing also drew my attention because, as a professor at a school of social work, I commit much of my time to the research of violent incidents. Having not too long ago completed a guide about college rampage shootings, I found myself, like so many others, trying to understand what had driven Adkisson to perform such a determined act. Whereas this had elements in frequent with “workplace shootings,” it also resembled a lot of the varsity shootings I write about in my e book. Others would possibly categorize it as the work of a “Home grown terrorist.” Perhaps these categories have more in common than criminologists have supposed.
I argue in my e-book that as a result of the college shooters had been adolescents, they were involved in that psychosocial crisis which the psychoanalyst Erik Eriksson referred to as “id formation versus id diffusion.” They decided to commit an act of violence in opposition to themselves (and others) because they saw no future in the adult world. Adkisson was 58, in the middle of the stage which Eriksson referred to as “Center Adulthood,” whose psychosocial crisis he outlined as “generativity versus stagnation.” By generativity he meant not simply having kids but contributing to the establishment and guidance of the following era. Such work would possibly involve educating, leading a youth group, or serving on the board of a not-for-revenue. Stagnation might discuss with a worker who stays in a job that has misplaced all meaning, or a spouse trapped in a loveless marriage. The subsequent stage in Erikson’s schema, the crisis of previous age, consists of “integration versus despair.” Erikson made the purpose that every one these crises are occurring at each age, however some take priority throughout sure periods of an individual’s life. Based on some sources, Adkisson was alcoholic and subject to lingering darkish moods. Alcoholism is commonly associated with getting developmentally “stuck,” on the age when the drinking began. Was he an adolescent walking around in grown-up cothes
News stories recommend that Adkisson was a man for whom life now not seemed price dwelling. College shooters reach this state after years of being bullied, abused bodily or sexually, and rejected by peers and girlfriends. Social awkwardness, psychiatric problems and learning disabilities additional aggravate the situation. Adkisson had failed in relationships (he had recently been divorced by his fourth or fifth wife) and failed vocationally (he had misplaced his job and couldn’t discover one other.) His food stamps had been terminated, making survival troublesome.
Second, he wished revenge against those that had deprived him of his work, his social stature, his means of survival. School shooters long to get again at the youngsters who tormented and excluded them, and teachers who treated them unjustly. The eminent criminologist Park Dietz has spoken of the danger inherent in this case:
When any individual has so little to lose, in order that all of it seems meaningless to them, then they’re doubtless to think about revenge as having considerable value. They could think of suicide as an escape from it all. That is a terrible mixture, being suicidal and wanting revenge. That’s at the heart of many of the workplace and faculty mass murders of the last 20 years. (Park Dietz, as quoted in the Hook, December four, 2003)
Third, Adkisson had created a “sham ideology,” a stone island ovo concept to support the violence he was prepared to commit. For school shooters, this usually consists of some garbled “philosophy” justifying Stone Island Clothes homicide. It is often compounded from a misreading of Nietzsche and Ayn Rand, and too many viewings of the Oliver Stone film, Natural Born Killers. Adkisson’s manifesto, a 4 page letter left in his SUV, blamed Liberals much the nation’s woes. Those of us who have followed the Bush administration’s unraveling of the security web and re-allotment of the Federal finances to company welfare and the warfare in Iraq found ourselves scratching our heads. The information that Adkisson’s most current ex-wife had once been a member of the congregation he had attacked provided a clue to how these antithetical concepts might have turn into conflated.
Black and white pondering oversimplifies the world in dangerous ways. Clever spin doctors have been driving a wedge into our body politic for decades, convincing us that Liberals think about every little thing a method, and Conservatives another, and there isn’t any overlap. But this is a lie designed to polarize voters. Even within Unitarian-Universalism, the religion Garrison Keillor evokes each time he wants to make a joke about Lefties gone wild, people hold views that range all across the political and cultural spectrum. There are professional-life atheists, and theists who help assisted suicides. Many of the varsity shooters have been raised in bible-belt communities where behavior was similarly divided into extremes. You may very well be good otherwise you could be evil. You might be part of Crew Jesus, or play for Satan.
Yet one more issue motivated Adkisson: the hope that he can be killed by law males throughout his Sunday morning assault. He said in his letter that he hoped he wouldn’t leave the church alive. In other words, the place we see a tragic, meaningless murder of the innocent, Adkisson, beneath the brittle shell of his narcissism, saw a suicide attempt. A few of the college shooters committed suicide after completing their shootings whereas others hoped the police would do the job for them.
Suicide by cop.
When men who derive their self-respect from being in a position to offer for their households are deprived of the privilege, they usually query the that means of their lives. Typically they contemplate suicide. A falling Dow-Jones traditionally correlates with a rising suicide fee, and vice-versa. A recent Huffington put up by Barbara Ehrenreich investigates the issue of suicide and the current financial disaster in depth. Between unemployment, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the weakened dollar, a swelling national debt, a vanishing security web and a expensive conflict, the outlook stone island ovo is grim.