According to the “Oxford Dictionaries” misogyny is “Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.”

It is a somewhat insipid definition. It seems unlikely that mere “dislike” or even “contempt” for women would be adequate motivation for the insanity Elliot Rodger unleashed in Santa Barbara on Friday 23 May.

At its root the word misogyny has stronger connotations. Misogyny comes from the Greek root misos which means ‘hatred’ and gunē for ‘woman.’ So, in its original intent misogyny signifies hatred of women.

Make no mistake about it, most men, probably all men at times, have been utterly beastly towards women. We have used our power in an attempt to exert our will over women. We have allowed our hormones to override our better judgment. We have been abusive, dismissive, violent, and inappropriate towards women. I am deeply grieved at the way my gender has all-too-frequently behaved towards women.

The terrible actions of Mr. Rodger should cause all men need to look deep into their hearts and repent of the ways we have objectified and misused the women in our lives.

But, while it may be politically correct and it may seem sensitive, to dismiss the horrors in Santa Barbara last week as merely a sign of endemic misogyny in our culture, is superficial and less than helpful. To make Elliot Rodger the poster boy for hatred of women does a profound disservice to the complexity of the human condition in general, and the torment of Mr. Rodger and young men like him in particular.

The volatile cocktail of cultural conditioning, hormones, mental health, power, the internet, virtually unfettered access to firearms, seasoned almost certainly with pharmaceuticals, is a toxic brew that cannot be reduced to a single political cliche.

I doubt Elliot Rodger hated all women. He probably loved his mother and his grandmother if he knew her. I am pretty sure that, if he had a sister, while he may at times have disliked her, he probably would never have contemplated inflicting serious violence upon her. And Rodgers hatred was not confined to women. His vicious vengeful attack was equally aimed at the men he perceived to have achieved that which he felt he had been denied by the malicious hand of fate.

The inclusion of men in Rodger’s destructive intentions points to a deeper cause underlying his horrific actions. Rodger targeted men as well as women because in his eyes some men appeared to have achieved the fulfillment of desires that for Rodger were deeply frustrated.

We live in a culture that has enshrined the fulfillment of human desire as the ultimate goal, meaning and purpose of life. Whether our lust is for money, power, prestige, fame, comfort, or sex, we believe we should be able to get what we want and anything that stands in our way is the enemy.

Rodger’s actions stem from a misconception of the human condition. We were not created to satisfy our desires. Human desire is always frustrated. No matter how much money, power, prestige, comfort, or sex we may get, it will never be enough. Elliot Rodger fatally misunderstood the human condition. He thought there were men out there who were getting all they wanted and whose lives were deeply fulfilled because they seemed to have what Rodger lacked.

Human desire does not exist to be fulfilled. Human desire exists to point us to the reality that we were created for something more than the needs, wants, and cravings that so often drive our lives. We will never find lasting fulfillment in material wealth, unfettered sexual gratification, or unlimited power.

Whether we are male or female, fulfillment comes when we let go of our needs, wants, and desires and find deep within a peace and contentment that depend upon nothing in the external world. I wonder where Eliott Rodger and young men like him might hear this message rather than just being dismissed with simplistic slogans.