Columbine! Virginia Tech! A Tucson, Ariz., shopping center! And now – a packed Aurora, Colo., theatre as men, women and children enjoy a summer movie!
Like millions of Americans, we are shocked and saddened by yet another atrocity in places Americans assume will be safe while they attend school, shop in a mall, or enjoy a film. Our hearts and thoughts are with the families and friends of those innocent persons whose lives were ended so abruptly and those wounded. Once again a shocked nation asks, “How can this happen?”
We are impelled to say that Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by Eli Siegel, explains why and what can prevent such wrenching events. It shows that contempt, “the addition to self through the lessening of something else,” is in every person.
Contempt is the cause of all injustice and every human cruelty. As husband and wife, parents and selves, we have seen that contempt can be so very ordinary – when, for instance, one spouse doesn’t listen to the other or we enjoy making fun of how a person looks or dresses. Carried far enough, contempt can lead to multiple murders on a Colorado night.
Eli Siegel explains in his book “James and the Children.” “As soon as you have contempt, as soon as you don’t want to see another person as having the fullness that you have, you can rob that person, hurt that person, kill that person.”
Only when the way contempt works in each of us – from its everydayness to its extremes – is studied, understood and criticized will America be kind and safe.
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