David Cullen was one of the first reporters on the scene at Columbine High School in 1999 after the tragic actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left thirteen dead.

In researching the terror of the Columbine shooting, Cullen discovered what he called a “revelation” in Dylan Klebold’s journal. Reflecting on last Friday’s terrible events in Aurora, Colorado, Cullen sought help in Klebold’s journal in comprehending the actions of James Holmes in an Aurora movie theatre where he killed 12 people and injured 58 others. In Klebold’s journal Cullen found,

Ten pages are consumed with drawings of giant fluffy hearts. Some fill entire pages, others dance about in happy clusters, with “I LOVE YOU” stenciled across. He was ferociously angry. He had one primary target for his anger. Not jocks, but himself. What a loathsome creature he found himself. No friends, no love, not a soul who cared about him or what became of his miserable life. None of that is objectively true. But that’s what he saw.

It’s a common high school malady, taken to extremes. Psychologists have a simple term for this state: depression. That surprises a lot of people. Depressives look sad, but that is the view from the outside. Of course they’re sad; they’ve probably gone their entire day getting berated relentlessly, by the single person in the world whose opinion they hold most dear — themselves.

Self-hatred is a vicious enemy. It consumes the soul of its perpetrator/victim and inevitably eventually turns outward to destroy in word or deed, the lives of unsuspecting victims.

We cannot afford the luxury of nuturing for even one moment the tinniest seeds of self-loathing. The attitudes we foster within ourselves, towards ourselves will always manifest in external action, for good or ill.

Jesus said,

out of the heart come evil intentions (Matthew 15:19)

Violence starts in the heart. Gun control is undoubtedly a good thing and would almost certainly curtail some of the violence that is so prevalent in countries where killing tools are abundantly accessible. But, in the end, the problem of violence will only be addressed with heart surgery. The heart surgery we require is the kind of complete transplant provided by the choice to surrender our lives to the healing power of love.

Like Dylan Klebold, we all have within us the capacity for love and the capacity for terrible violence. We choose many times every day whether we will live from our broken violent heart, or from our transformed and life-giving heart. The results of our choice will lead to a world that is more broken, or moving towards greater wholeness.

If there could ever be any positive outcome from the senseless actions of James Holmes in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado on Friday July 20, 2012 it would be if I allow his actions to hold a mirror up to my own life. In that mirror I will see the violence in my own life. I will behold the violent thoughts to which I am prone, the negative tone of voice, the cutting comment that so frequently slips from my lips.

The willingness to see myself as I truly am is the beginning of the journey to a renewed heart. A renewed heart is the only path to a more gentle world.

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