Trying to make sense of the madness

It’s not easy to wrap your head around the massacre in Connecticut. So instead of trying, I’ve turned my eyes away from nearly every news segment that starts to relive it all over again.

I steer conversations away from it. I can barely look my own kids in the eye.

Hurts too much.


I’m not just numb with grief, I’m sick of it.

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Sick of everything related to the influence of evil these days. Sick of the word “evil.” Sick of how the word lays itself out, like cold steel jonesing for a kill. Sick of evil in suits, boots, heels, headdresses, fatigues, baggy jeans, football pads, cassocks, or goatees.

Sick of it.

Two years ago, I was pretty much sick of trying to figure out what kind of thrill two teenagers got out of butchering a mother to death in Mont Vernon, N.H. Even sicker wondering what went through that dying mother’s mind as she watched her daughter being hacked too.

Sick to death.


Twelve years ago, I was introduced to sickness when I learned that my friend Bob survived a massacre at a technology office in Wakefield. Sick with fear that he didn’t know the co-worker he sat next to was capable of returning from lunch brandishing an AK-47, a shotgun, and a pistol. Seven sick, senseless deaths followed on Dec. 26, 2000.

But I’m mostly sick of pretending that we don’t know what makes these “monsters”  tick.

Have we not witnessed the makings of these monsters since our first days in the schoolyard?

Have we not seen with our own eyes what years of degradation, intimidation, manipulation, and isolation can do to the baby mind of a baby monster?

Of course we have.


Not only have we witnessed it, we’ve participated in it. Unwillingly most times and without complete malice, we’ve all helped, at one point, to feed the baby monster.

I know I have. And that makes me sick.

Whether it was in the schoolyard, at work, or on the streets, the ease with which we dismiss the social outcast comes with a high price. We fail to engage the socially challenged because we fear them. And by doing so, the seeds of their madness flourish as their eyes deaden and hearts harden.

Here are the most powerful lines our president said when addressing the Newtown community: “This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.”

It wasn’t just a call to all of the parents in the country to step up their game. It was directed at all of us, parents or not.

Forget policy. Doesn’t take but one bullet to devastate a family, a community, a country. Doesn’t matter how fast or how many bullets. It destroys. Any gun can do it.

My friend who survived the office massacre in Wakefield never went very deep into detail about his horrific experience. I know he watched his co-worker walk past him loaded to the teeth, ready to ruin as many lives as he could.

After that, it was all just a blur of gunfire.

But I do remember Bob’s answer when I asked, “Why do you think he didn’t kill you?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe because I used to talk to him.”

Melrose native Rob Azevedo now lives in Manchester, N.H. He can be reached at