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A hope note

‘Angry Loner.’
Newspaper headlines chose those two words to describe Cho Seung Hui, the mass murderer at Virginia Tech.
I recall that acquaintances of Lee Harvey Oswald described him with those same two words. The boys who ravaged Columbine earned the same epitaph.
Going it alone is risky business. The first thing the Bible pronounces ‘not good’ is aloneness.
There was a popular book published in 1961 titled ‘A Nation of Sheep.’
It criticized those who swallow whatever the authorities ‘ presidents, parents, preachers ‘ feed them.
Our pride revolts at being called a sheep. Sheep aren’t known for being smart. They just go with the flock. Sheep-like passivity in humans leads to wars and all manner of ills.
We Americans value independence and self-sufficiency. We’re not sheep! We imagine ourselves tigers and lions and eagles and such.
But one day, sooner or later, life puts us in touch with ‘ like it or not ‘ our essential sheepness. It may come in the form of a diagnosis, a marriage crisis, a parenting crisis, a job loss or a death. Then we suddenly realize how frail, weak, defenseless, shorn ‘ sheeplike ‘ we really are.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have grasped the importance of being part of a flock. The first step in their 12-step program is to admit powerlessness to control or fix or manage their lives on their own.
We need a flock to include and enfold us, to accept us as we are, to draw us out of our shells. We need a flock that can even allow us to ventilate our self-loathing and help us dissipate our anger.
As the Yale boys put it in their Whiffenpoof Song: ‘We’re poor little lambs who have lost our way.’
Is that a baa I hear?

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