The Geezer Tries to Understand the Modern World

The Geezer Tries to Understand the Modern World

I just read some of the “Manifesto” of Elliot Roger, the 22–year–old man who killed six people in Santa Barbara. His killing rampage was evil; he wasn’t.

His long essay is more an apologia pro vita sua than it is a terrorist “Manifesto.” His life as he describes it seems to have been normal for his age and for this country. His parents were able to give him just about any material thing he wanted. Although he repeatedly refers to himself as “ugly,” he seems to have been a fairly good–looking young man. He lived the good life in Southern California. He didn’t live in East LA. He didn’t have to worry about money or a job or a car or gas to put in his car. Compared to the great majority of men his age throughout the world, he was fortunate.

Some comments about his horrible murder of six young and innocent people refer to him as “crazy” or “schizophrenic,” or just mentally ill. He may have been severely emotionally disturbed, but I would be surprised if he could be classified as mentally ill.

He hated himself. He projected a prodigiously inflated self–image that he obviously used to hide the deeply vulnerable lack of self esteem that drove him. Despite all the material things his parents could and did give him, his life was empty, lonely, and sad. His preoccupation with sex, in my view, was just the focus of his pervasive sense of not belonging, not being accepted, not being loved. Despite the horror of what he did, I feel sorry for him and I pray for the peaceful repose of his soul — that God will show him mercy as he goes before God in judgment.

These are the random thoughts I had while reading (scanning, really) his “Manifesto”:

— We don’t raise our sons to have the ability to ask for love in healthy ways. Boys are raised to a standard of self–sufficiency that is inhumane and impossible to attain.

— Our society makes sexual activity the hallmark of a fulfilled and healthy emotional life. I am not a prude, and I am not an advocate of across–the–board “chastity except in marriage.” I know from personal experience, however, how good people often view a person who is not sexually active. In my case, a good friend of mine told me once that, because I wasn’t having sex when sex was available to me, I probably would be happier being dead. He told me that with love. . . really!

— Guns, especially hand guns, are a black mark on the conscience of this country. A Franciscan friar who is a priest, wrote today that a good Catholic cannot in conscience be pro–life while having is her/his purse or wallet an NRA membership card. Amen, Father Dan. Read Father’s blog at

— Shrinks and social workers have their function. A good shrink was an amazing help to me in the years after my later–than–late coming out. But these people can’t fill the emptiness that modern life, in and of itself, produces. Saint Augustine famously wrote, “Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.” (“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”) I really and deeply believe that St. Augustine, in this brief statement, names the source of our modern discontent. Had Elliott Roger taken these words to heart, his life, and our world, would have been much happier.