Dr. Ken Druck wants the dad who lost his son in the Santa Barbara shooting to know that love and compassion are the path to healing.
The harsh lessons learned from losing my own daughter, Jenna, at age 21, have taught me what is real and honorable — and what is not. It is understandable that we feel rage and despair. I did. And still do. Choosing a path of honor, however, means resisting the impulse to seek revenge and retribution, fighting our way back into life one breath at a time and making our lives an expression of our love, not of our despair and bitterness over how they died.
The false promise of revenge is that hurting or killing someone will satisfy our deepest sense of grief, loss and violation. Revenge and retribution masquerading as honor is often the popular driving force for justifying war and hatred.
Families of murder victims will attest that no act of vengeance, conviction, execution or punishment will bring their loved one back. Nor will it afford them any significant measure of peace. Justice under the law is, of course, a good and noble outcome. But no amount of punishment is enough to satisfy the thirst for revenge. Families of fallen soldiers will also confess that no victory of war has the power to bring their sons and daughter’s home. Hunting down and killing the enemy on a battlefield of war may appear to “even the score” so to speak, but it does little to heal shattered hearts. Breaking the vicious cycle of unprocessed grief and violence does, however, begin to directly address the possibility of turning the inconsolable sorrow, outrage and violation into something constructive.
Richard Martinez and Peter Rodger met privately last week, a few short days after both of their sons had died to explore this very possibility. Peter’s son, Elliot, had randomly sprayed bullets from his automatic weapon into a convenience store where Christopher was shopping, murdering him. And yet these fathers came together seeking an all too rare and sadly uncommon path of honor. Working together, they pledged to prevent this kind of atrocity from happening to other families. They would help one another transform the choice-less agony and unspeakable pain of losing a son into something life-affirming and socially redeeming. Embracing one another in an act of noble compassion, two brokenhearted fathers stood together in the conviction of eradicating the savage violence that erupts when mental illness is given “free” access to lethal weapons.
Examples abound around the world of this new honor code. A code of peace and non-violence. Organizations like “The Parents Circle” started by my Israeli and Palestinian brothers, Yitzhak and Ghazi, have demonstrate that the only real way of healing grief and achieving honor come from making the world a safer place for our children. Making our lives an expression of peace and love, rather than hatred and revenge, may not be an easy thing to do. But it is a good and noble, as well as civil and honorable choice we must learn to make if we’re to break the cycle of unprocessed grief and violence.
This article originally appeared on Ken Druck’s Blog.
Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong—AP (appeared on original article).