What is there even to say which hasn’t been said about the tragedy that took place this weekend in Isla Vista?
I don’t have any wise words to offer. I just need to get my thoughts out so I can process and grieve along with the rest of my community. I apologize in advance if this is messy.
The details were fuzzy Friday night. “Mulch, there was a drive by shooting tonight in IV.” I relayed him info I received on my phone. We had gotten home late from a night of celebrating Mulch’s sister’s graduation from SBCC, around 10 PM. Unknown to us, thirty minutes after the violent events unfolded.
We both looked at each other with grieved hearts, as we have in the past with the amount of violence that takes place in IV. The reverse 911 system never lets up.
Without any more information, I assumed it was gang related. We went to bed.
I awoke the next morning to text messages from concerned friends, several reverse 911 messages and emails from university leaders. I felt a lump form in my throat as I began to read what exactly had happened the night prior.
The details of what took place were still evolving. All I knew was that some disturbed individual had gone on a shooting rampage through Isla Vista, and several kids had been killed. The morning press conference with the Sheriff confirmed that number was 7, including the perpetrator.
I walked to IV, laid some flowers in front of the deli where a fellow student had died, and prayed for this small town to experience the love of Jesus in such a dark time.
Students walked around quietly. The sky was grey with heavy clouds. Even nature seemed to be in mourning.
I know this kind of stuff happens all the time. People are killed in tragic events every day. But to walk past the lawn that two young women, no different than me, breathed their last because of hateful, intended violence is gut-wrenching.
The commonness of violence does not nullify the intensity of one life lost to its brutality. We must grieve for each life lost this weekend, even in the face of so much death around the world.
To quote Graham Greene, “suffering is not increased by numbers: one body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.”
To be expected, tears have been easily shed this weekend. I can’t help it. IV has become my adopted home. It’s quirkiness and craziness has grown on me, and I deeply care for those who live there and call it home.
Elliot Rodger, too blind by his narcissistic self-infatuation and self-pity, believed he had been cheated by the rest of humanity—namely women—from entitlement to his fantasies. So he acted on it, in an unforgiving, brutal manner. But he doesn’t have to win.
If you know me, you know that my hope is in Jesus Christ. I believe with everything in me that although he was God, he gave up every right he had and came to this earth to and was killed for us all. For you. Me. Even Elliot Rodger.
And as I walked the streets of IV yesterday—felt the weight of what took place, the evil that had been unleashed—I remembered this isn’t the end of the story.
A young man mentioned something, with bitter sarcasm, in passing to his buddy as we looked at the scene where Elliot Rodger had crashed his car. “I wonder if he’s happy now.”
The “justice” Elliot Rodger wanted didn’t exist. Yes, he stole the lives of 6 young adults; students like me who were looking forward to the rest of their lives.
But he did not become a god through his violence.
His actions and behavior denied himself the “happiness” he so desired.
He does not have the final word.
I don’t know all his claims to injustice. But I know that further perpetuating injustice doesn’t solve injustice.
We don’t have to let the evil that other’s commit determine our response. And even though there are hateful people who have sick perceptions of the world, we don’t have to cower in fear to them.
And I speak especially to women, those whom this man hated so much (but of course to all as well); we don’t have to fearfully live our lives in the shadows of evil, especially of another human’s making.
Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
I want to live in the light, fully assured that the final word does not rest with man and his wickedness.
The final word rests with Jesus. We look forward to the day when he will make all things new.
Evil takes place in our world. Injustice is real. Pain is inevitable.
But Jesus walks into those situations of pain, like when he walked into the lives of Mary and Martha who had just lost their brother. And just as he wept with them, he weeps with us as we grapple to understand why.
And he extends his hand to us, and leads us to a higher vantage point, where we can see that he will indeed make everything new. This world isn’t where our hope has to lie.
So we can live in light of that reality. We can actively pursue the righteous world that God intended and will bring to pass. Even in the face of tragedies like the one that took place this weekend.
I’m saying all of this as a reminder to myself. I need faith to trust in view of the incomprehensible.
The following passage has been an anchor for me as I’ve struggled through pain. Today, perhaps more than ever, I am clinging to it.