The news this morning is filled with images of yet another mass shooting in the United States – this time, in a Church in Charleston, South Carolina. As with every such event, it can be distressing to listen to the painful words of those affected and to see the images flashing across the screen.

At the general level, it is difficult to comprehend why people undertake acts such as this, to fathom how anyone can be driven to take the lives of other human beings. Sometimes, acts such as these result from mental illness, certainly – but this is not the case on all occasions. So, assuming this is not the reason, what other reasons exist? It can seem as if one reason is hatred for other people – perhaps because of perceived differences between the individual and others. Perceiving others to be ‘different’ in some way, leads to a dehumanising view and a lack of empathy and compassion, a loss of the awareness that all people are equal, regardless of any differences.

Another possible reason is a deeper one – hatred of self, which can spill over into hatred of others. I wonder sometimes if a great evil pervading our days is the loss of a sense of self-worth, self-identity, in some people? That, as a result of this, there can be a desire to ‘leave a mark’, regardless of how this is achieved. Perhaps this ties in with the increasingly common wish to ‘be famous’, without necessarily having any particular quality or achievement which warrants fame. On such occasions, fame and infamy become blurred.

Each event of this sort damages humanity a little more and changes us to some degree – if only by de-sensitising us to future similar events.

Today, regardless of the motives behind this tragic event, I keep all involved in my thoughts and in my prayers, including the person responsible. I hope many will do the same.