The sickening spasm of violence attributed to former police officer Chris Dorner is extremely disturbing, in part, because Dorner’s writings, along with accounts of his friends, reveal the mind of a person who could be our next door neighbor. It is more reassuring when mass-murderers are inarticulate and clearly loony. Granted, we may never know for sure if Dorner was mentally ill. But his tragic story should sober us as a society. Why? Because reports on Dorner’s life indicate he was a man who often thought he was victimized by others. Teachers, administrators, and colleagues all, in his mind, treated him unjustly. In other words, it was always someone else’s fault for the problems in his life. You know the type: the person who never examines their own responsibility and veracity.
Dorner’s tragic tale reminds me of Jeremiah 17:9: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
This verse is an uncomfortable reminder that we are all capable of evil, even the most sane among us. We don’t like to think we are capable of snapping and going over the edge. But you see, Dorner’s problems may have had little to do with his childhood development or the functionality of neurotransmitters in his brain. It is possible that he simply fed and nourished the wickedness in his heart until it prodded him to evil action.
Christ sees exactly how deep our wickedness goes. That is partly why Jesus says “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Jesus is telling us to examine ourselves FIRST. An honest self-examined life helps us avoid falling into that tragic pit where we perceive all negative events as the fault of someone else. If we enter that dreadful pit, well, there is no telling how twisted our thoughts and actions can become. The imperative of Christ that we examine our hearts is not a guarantee that we won’t encounter actual injustice now and then; it just helps us refrain from feeding the beast of wickedness in our heart. Proper self-examination nourishes our mental and spiritual health and helps us get along with others as far as it depends on us.