Evil erupted in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20,
2012. Twelve people dead; 58 injured. We’re all horrified.
One of the images of the last week is the alleged shooter’s father
exiting a plane at DIA. I watched him and wondered, “What would you
say to your son?” Would you enter his jail cell with rage, tears,
confusion, or stunned silence? I can’t even imagine.
And then it made me wonder: What do you say to a killer’s parents?
Rage, tears, confusion, or stunned silence? Or why not compassion?
After all, aren’t these people victims as well?
We’ve had experience in Colorado with these things. After the
Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999, people vilified the parents
who “should’ve known better.” There was very little compassion for
them. They became pariahs in all the circles they would’ve turned
to for support in the past.
Dave Cullen wrote in his book “Columbine,” about a pastor who
reached out in compassion to the Klebolds–parents of one of the
killers. Reverend Marxhausen, pastor of St. Phillip Lutheran
Church, let the Klebold family know he was available–and even
officiated at a service for their dead son.
Cullen wrote: “Don Marxhausen made some of his parish
exceptionally proud. That was their pastor–a man who could find
compassion in his heart for anyone. A man capable of consoling the
couple who had unwittingly produced a monster…Some of his parish,
and much of the community, was appalled.”
It makes me wonder: What would I say to a killer’s parents? What
would you say?