Roswell and The Alien Within
I am struck by the irony of the recent tragic shooting event in Roswell, NM. Roswell has long been focused on the aliens from outer space and all the associated evils. Yet on Jan 14, 2014 a 12 y/o boy, described by others as ‘a nice boy’, a young man who was in band, who apologized to a classmate after he bumped into her on the way to the gym, pulled out a shotgun and blasted 2 classmates – almost as if he had been ‘possessed by an alien’. Fortunately his shooting didn’t cause the vast harm some other shootings have caused.
However, it leads one to ask WHY this happened. How did this nice young man almost turn into a killer. It is as if there were an alien within him. Clearly there was, but it was not an alien from outer space. It was that alien part of him that was an unknown, unshared, unresolved set of feelings and reactions that lead to his bizarre behaviors. As we sit in a world of marvelously advanced technology, we seem to be getting more and more alien (distant) from ourselves and those around us, rather than closer, but the problem is not a new one brought on by technology. It is an old one brought on by our fears of opening up and sharing our own humanness with its ‘less acceptable’ feelings of pain, anger, rejection, despair, desire for revenge and so on. Feelings that we are often ashamed to admit to, which keeps us from talking about them with someone we can love and trust, or someone who is more objective. Feelings we fear will lead others to reject us, hate us, make fun of and belittle us, or lead us to unacceptable behaviors. Feelings that often get turned against the self as well. Feelings that don’t get shared and then well up and cause a behavior that seems so ‘alien’ to that person’s ‘true self’. Feelings that others are often reluctant to listen to and discuss with us, that are treated as a source of some sort of evil just because they exist, or that are belittled and demeaned in other ways.
Sometimes those undealt with feelings get turned outside, as with the shootings in Roswell, Newtown, Aurora and other places. Sometimes the feelings turn to a much less publicized place – when people turn them to the inside and commit suicide. Sometimes their owners strive to hide them under layers of various chemicals that are used to excess, be they alcohol and street drugs or prescription drugs. Sometimes they drive people to other excesses that impair the quality of life and relationships as people strive to avoid dealing with those very feelings that are so difficult to admit to. But when treated like feared aliens, when feelings are run from, avoided, feared for what they could do or what they might mean about us, they can turn into an alien and unexpected response to life as fearsome as any of our worst alien invasion movie themes.
There is an important lesson here for all of us – a lesson that can help prevent these kinds of tragedies more than all the psychiatric medications, gun control laws, jails, and other ‘treatments’ we might concoct to prevent many of these behaviors. When we can learn to quit treating our feelings as evil aliens and instead learn to recognize them as friends that are here to help us navigate this life, then we can feel ok about opening up and sharing them and talking about them and learning from them. Then we don’t have the pressure from within build up so we wind up acting on them in a negative or impulsive or aggressive fashion. It is equally important for everyone to respect the feelings of others in the same way. Instead of condemning, judging, saying ‘you shouldn’t feel that way’, avoiding and so on, to make an effort to be there to hear, comfort, love, and lend guidance. Don’t be afraid to share what you have learned about how to deal with similar feelings in a more reasoned fashion so it didn’t become something destructive in your hands. The simple trick of just being there, listening, sharing without condemning – caring how that other person feels and acting like it by being there for them, no matter what their age – can be a tremendous gift for both of you. It is a gift that can help others love and accept themselves, and no longer have the need to handle those feelings in an ‘alien’ fashion because they are no longer an unacceptable reaction, but are a normal part of learning to navigate this life.
People love their alien theories, their alien movies, their concerns about alien possession and take over, and yet ironically we humans have been the aliens that went into other parts of this planet and devastated them, and now we are looking toward interplanetary travel where we can become the aliens of outer space ourselves. If we are to do that in a loving, peaceful and productive fashion, I would encourage all of you to work at learning to manage and make friends with those internal ‘aliens’ known as your feelings, to help you and all of our race be the best we can be rather than the worst.