A few hours ago. Seven people are dead. An 18 year old man, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, has murdered his school colleagues and headmistress at Jokela High School and then fatally shot himself in the head. It happened in Tuusula, just 40 minutes away. A picturesque town where I taught spiritual principles.
After the events of today, I know these spiritual teachings have to be given to families as well as to individuals. Suffering begets suffering. Pain begets pain. Torture begets torture.
Odd coincidence. Just this morning, I asked a mother, “Why don’t Finnish schools have high security fences to keep gunmen out ?” The UK does.
Odd coincidence, yesterday, I wrote for the first time about a Finnish youth issue comments section of this blog.
Odd coincidence, 5 days ago. A young Finn reveals he was jailed for murdering a drug dealer at the age of just 17 years old.
Odd coincidence, 12 days ago. A drunken Finnish skinhead confesses on the boat from Tallinn how he secretly loves Hitler and the Nazi extermination system.
Odd coincidence, last year. Police took an extremely large collection of machine guns and heavy artillery from a local apartment of an elderly loner.
Auvinen was just 18. His target a school. From whom did I first hear of the Jokela tragedy? Adults? No. Media. No, I heard from Finnish school children who had communicated via mobile phones. How are they coping? No-one really knows for sure.[Note: Ask them]
This has never happened before. Parents don’t want to frighten their children. What do parents if their children (understandably) refuse to go to school?
“These things don’t happen in Finland,” I was always hearing, “they happen in USA.” Today this mantra is horribly wrong. Suddenly quiet Finland seems less safe.
Finland boasts the highest education levels in Europe. Education suddenly rendered useless by a bullet to the brain – the fate of Auvinen’s headmistress killed executioner style.
I learned the killer’s name and habits on the internet, hours before Finnish TV news released that information. He took the username “Sturmgeist89” after his previous account “NaturalSelector89” was deleted by YouTube. “89” was the year of his birth. Almost a child. Did not his parents, school or gun club know about his other activities?
A self-declared “unemployed philosopher” and a “social darwinist”, who disturbingly like other Columbine School Shooting fans, believed he could change the human race by killing it.
Eric genocidal internet preach channels on YouTube had at least 200 subscribers. Many more looked at his videos and angry writings. Who among these young viewers will become, like Eric, a mass murderer?
Eric’s viewed over 25,000 YouTube videos. What did he watch? Why did he watch them? Is anyone looking into this? Problems have causes. Actions have histories.
This problem seemingly happened suddenly. But it was already bubbling beneath the surface. Has anyone looked to see what exactly fuels this anti-social behaviour?
The same problems hit the UK more than a decade ago when the Dunblane Primary School massacre left sixteen children and one adult dead in 1996 The killer committed suicide. A pattern emerges. The problem has been tracked through USA in different forms. It blows across the Earth like shadow. Here a Wikipedia list of school related attacks.
Unfortunately, most ordinary people feel too disempowered, too disturbed to take remedial action. Even spiritual people who should feel called to help can be hard to move as if they are in shock, unable to take in the enormity of the problem. Yes, it is enormous but it can be tackled.
20 years ago I studied what was then considered to be uniquely American social problems. I walked through the infamous Cabrini-Green housing project to hear how community activists and police hoped to stop uzi machine-gun toting teenage gangs from terrorising the neighbourhood. They never succeeded in stopping the problem until the last apartment block was torn down and levelled.
I despaired in America, knowing that these problem were coming to my quaint peaceful eccentric little homeland, the British Isles. And just as in Finland, we Londoners were not prepared for it. But the arms and drugs dealers were ready for the new style of business: gangland execution and indiscriminate drive-by-shootings.
Adding to the stress of city life: London is a natural target for terrorists. The underground Tube network an obvious attack site. I warned my students . On 7th July 2005 suicide bombers on the Underground. What can stop an exploding man? Not much.
London, once cultured, now explosively viral. Disaffected minorities made extremists by the practice of extreme prejudice. Confirmed by a Muslim Parliamentary adviser to British PM Gordon Brown to me at a international peace conference held in Seoul, last month. Depressed and desperate youths join criminal gangs living up to the American dream presented by rap artists on MTV.
MTV is in Finland too. Children innocently say “gansta” instead of “cool” – not yet understanding that a “gangster” is a bad man, a killer.
Graphically violent video games are popular here, just as they are elsewhere, which means several hours every day and night spent in dark rooms massacring imaginary people and shouting “headshot” and “stone cold killer”- by children aged ten and under. Games bought by parents because their kids can only be angels. Auvinen belonged to a gun club and was allowed to take that gun home – which meant he could also take it to school if he felt like it.
Finland surprisingly has the third most highest number of guns per person. Finnish boys play AirSoft. Firing hard plastic pellets from replica automatic rifles killing at least the forest slowly.
Finland is relatively peaceful compared to London’s noise and stress.
But the signs of teenager angst are everywhere.
What sort of checks and balances to contain and safely release the overwhelming angst and self-loathing that prompted Eric to plan and murder his school colleagues? Eric was loaded with a total hatred of humankind, more damaging than a gun, writing “Hate… Im so full of it and I love it. . .The faster human race is wiped out from this planet, the better… “
Eric’s end game was no solution at all. Spiritually speaking, the self-administered shot to the head did not remove the pain. Eric had a disease. The virus in his head consumed his body. The virus was a set of unreal ideas.
Will such ideas infect and destroy the human race? Or can we find better ideas and save ourselves? (The technical word for these ideas is “memes”)
Please help teenagers of this generation to find better ideas, healthy solutions and positive outcomes.
And stop allowing your children to play violent computer games from where self-destructive memes may enter, lay in wait and one day activate.
How can the gap between parents and children be so wide? And if parents can’t or won’t take care of their children then who can or will? No-one.
Bridge the gap.
Tonight, Finnish parents will feel especially lucky to safely tuck their children into bed. But tomorrow Finland faces a new and less certain future.
Next post: After Jokela Tragedy: Picking Up the Pieces – understanding is the beginning of a solution for future generations
I’m so sorry to hear about the horrible tragedy in Finland – the last place I would ever expect for this type of thing to happen. The sages often say, “all is well, all is well, all is in its right place, etc.” How does one reconcile that with what just happened at the Finnish High School, the Iraq War, torture, etc.?
It is horrifying to see that something so terrible can happen here in Tuusula, in a village where we have been living for more than 15 years. This is not even a town, just a countryside village.
I fully agree with what you just wrote and can see the damaging influence of internet and computer cames in our neighborhood too, and the problem of parents not having enough time for their kids. It is so very sad.
Our family was not attacked directly today by this massacre, but I’m sure it will have a deep influence to our kids life (our son is 18 years old like the shooter was). Kids have to go through a lot of purification to get their minds back to peaceful and trusting state.
As a father of two lovely kids it is so horrible to see how things can go so wrong with teenagers as has gone today.
There is violence built in Finnish society, like in the Army.
I feel it is high time for Finland to stop compulsory army recruits where the army forces young men (18 years old) to join the killing training. Many kids are horrified to go to army but they must or they will be sentenced to prison for longer period of time as they would spend in the army training.
I hope that Finnish government and the European union will make a stop to such violence to young men in Finland.
Finnish army anyway is so small that any country who wants to destroy it can do it easily as there are only 5million inhabitants in Finland all together including babies.
By disarmament of the army we Finns could also show the whole world that we are for the peace and not for killing. This could be a step towards more peaceful world.
I do hope that what happened today in Tuusula will open the eyes of the political decision makers and they take an active step towards non violence by any peaceful means possible.
This is really sad. The youth need somewhere to direct all the energy they are feeling at this time on Earth. This is a good reminder to focus more on being present for the youth. Thanks Dave for giving this issue the light it needs for change…and for the determination..
I heard about the shooting on the radio just the day before the Oshana weekend retreat in a hotel where I was staying.
I did not believe it to begin with but then it felt strange and sad. Most shocking is that it happened in Finland…
The fact that it happened again means that we are ignoring or don’t know how to deal with a lot of serious issues in our societies, in our families, in our internal worlds. How many tragedies do we need until we start asking serious questions, find solutions and start taking actions?
For how long are we going to expect governments, scientists, specialist etc. to give us causes and solutions on silver plates?
It is time to ask serious questions and get actively involved in all aspects of our lives for all of us. It is very easy to pass the buck. It is time to grow up and take responsibility. We have to do it.