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El País, Colombia

Adam Lanza, the Excluded


By Gloria H

Translated By Oscar Lees

25 December 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

 


Colombia - El País - Original Article (Spanish)

Adam Lanza, the timid and almost autistic youth who was friendless, without social contacts and who killed 26 people in the United States, is one of the excluded. For many he is a monster, an undesirable, a pariah. But, as with so many other human beings, because of illness, a difficult family situation or social intolerance, he does not fit into our cultural parameters and carries the stamp of discrimination. Adam was not part of society because, according to the news, he never felt accepted by a culture that discriminates against the different, the strange, the unusual.

How long is our list of the excluded? How many of these shocking crimes have been carried out by people who fail to fit in with social norms? How is exclusion constructed? How responsible are we for generating exclusion? Modes of behavior, fashion, attitudes, body image, sex, all the parameters of adaptation and acceptance, carry a poisonous message: They indicate what is correct and reject what does not conform with their model. The result is exclusion: Those who “fail” to be accepted by the culture of the correct, the adequate, the “normal.”

Exclusion is one of the scourges of the world. The greater the fabric of communication — be it the media, social networks or other forms — the more we are exposed to exclusion for the notoriety it acquires. What a paradox that under lights and cameras the excluded shine, but not for us, the included, only for themselves, as their sense of isolation is amplified. In a more anonymous world, exclusion is not so conspicuous. Now, everything stands out: obesity, abundance, success, football, nationality, society, beauty, hair, fashion, cars, college, religions, sex, cities … How many of the excluded do we nurture on a daily basis?

The only way to combat exclusion is with respect for difference. Solidarity combats intolerance. The young man Lanza took his own life but how should we treat those whom we consider bad? If he had not killed himself, what would the treatment be? What happened to the Norwegian? Do we seriously believe that evil exists, evil beings? Or in fact that there exist sick people who could not manage their anxiety, their fear, their exclusion? The victim does not exist without the victimizer, Palestine does not exist without Israel and vice versa. Thus, at each extreme there is someone who feeds the monster and the excluded, thereby fueling the sense of rejection. How to overcome this duality?

The only way is with a change of mentality. Not just out of fear that the excluded will make a demand on his or her situation, but also out of solidarity, out of an understanding that we are beings in continuous social communication, beings who do not exist in isolation but actually have some function or other. Every excluded, every exclusion has sponsors, and society, you and I — anyone who “judges” a difference — feeds exclusion. The new mentality must bring a sense of unity because it respects difference. The new era, the new world, is to look at how we coexist in a different way. In short, to achieve the only thing we came to this planet to practice, which is unconditional love. This may sound a little corny nowadays but it is the only path to constructing a society where difference does not signify exclusion. When we can live side by side accepting that what is different is not reprehensible — these are just occasions where we can learn the true meaning of being here.



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