We all to have die sometime of something.
This may sound flippant, cruel, or heartless to some (especially given what I’m about to discuss), but it is a simple truth and not meant coldly. Most of us probably hope our deaths will be quiet and painless…or, perhaps at least in service to some greater good. We all more or less expect to die at a “right” time, after we’ve lived a full life…and those with children certainly never expect for them to go first….
Why do we have to die?
Why do some die horribly?
Why do some act heroically while others are victims?
These are powerful questions for which few have answers…or those who claim to have answers tend to be part of organizations that truck in the metaphysical (I include religions, here, because I’m using “metaphysical” in the broadest of senses). Nothing wrong with that. How else do you expect to find such answers, in real, everyday life, since most of us don’t take the “obvious” as answers, and “obvious” means different things to different people? Many of us are searching for answers to all the “whys” in Life, one of the biggest and hairiest of which is…why death.
But, no matter what we think we see, we experience, what if the answer to the Why of Death is that there really is no death?
Jesse McCord Lewis’s story is heart-wrenching. I haven’t read the book, only the RD article, but the article (and some Internet research) tells the story of six year old who acted older than his perceived six years of life should have allowed him to…and saved lives.
Jesse’s December 12, 2012 day, in Newton, Connecticut, started like any other day at the Lewis household, according to his mother, Scarlett Lewis. Scarlett woke Jesse up with song and kisses until he giggled. Jesse’s father, Neil, “arrived” (divorced, separated, shift worker…?) to take Jesse to school. It was a sunny morning, and frost coated the car. As Scarlett said her good-byes, she’d found “I love you” scratched into the frost on the car, and Jesse standing there, smiling up at her (she took a picture of it). But, when Neil dropped off Jesse at school (inside the school’s hallway, in a crouched position, I have to assume), Jesse turned to his father, put his hands on his father’s shoulders, and said: “I just want you to know it’s gonna be OK. I love you and Mom.”
Jesse turned and left for his first-grade classroom.
Scarlett tells us that Jesse, only four feet tall, was “born brave,” never shied away from challenges, always had a ready grin (interesting choice of words—not a “smile,” but a grin…). Possessed a “warrior’s heart” and was “an old soul” (another interesting choice of words). He also had a “favorite camouflage helmet.”
Scarlett tells us that when the first blasts of automatic gunfire opened up at Sandy Hook Elementary, there were reports that Jesse didn’t run, and more so, that he stayed by the side of his first-grade teacher, Miss Soto, whom he loved.
The gunman, whose name was Adam Lanza, entered their classroom and opened fire, killing Miss Soto. Survivor reports say that Jesse ended up with a head wound, did not flee, stayed on his feet…and faced the gunman…who ended up pausing to either reload or deal with a weapon’s issue (okay, weird synchronicity, here: as I’m initially writing this, on Dec 31st, about 4:47 a.m., on my iTunes radio the very instant I’d been working on this section was playing a Shinedown song, called “Second Chance.” I paused it when I heard the following: “Tell my mother, tell my father/I’ve done the best I can/To make them realize/This is my life/I hope they understand/I’m not angry, I’m just saying/Sometimes goodbye is a second chance…”; click here are the rest of “Second Chance’s” lyrics). It was in this moment that Jesse yelled to his classmates to run. Nine little kids did as they were told, by someone who possessed an uncanny and coherent presence of mind for someone six years of age that (to my way of thinking) goes beyond any six year old I’ve ever met. All nine who ran, survived.
Following Jesse’s death, Scarlett found in Jesse’s personal effects a picture he’d drawn two days earlier of (in her words) “an angel standing in front of a bad man.” I’ve only found this image in the Wayne Dyer video, on Scarlett’s website, at about the 3:25 mark. It does show a very short person before another, taller, person whose head is “messed up” (i.e., scribbled over) Scarlett also later found that Jesse had also scrawled on their kitchen chalkboard the message “Norurting Helin Love” (“Nurturing Healing Love”). Immediately following Jesse’s funeral, Scarlett further informs that during the balloon release in his honor that the floating balloons had actually formed a heart as they drifted over Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Why—and how—all of this?
One could invoke “God,” but how do you reconcile God “allowing” murder? The murder of innocents? This is another topic that draws much discussion (including the “free will argument)…but…what if reincarnation fit in with most views of what God is? What if reincarnation “fit in” with most religious beliefs? From what I remember of my study of religion in college, it can fit in with most religious tenants. Couldn’t reincarnation explain—through what I like to term “reincarnational angst”—a lot of the violence that pervades our world? Explain unexplainable grudges, anger, conflict? Personal angst? Especially such explosions as this that seemingly come out of nowhere? Yes, mental illness is at play in this instance, but why (again another of the “Big Whys”…) the mental illness? Get past the pure biology or psychology of it all and try to go philosophically, spiritually—what brings on this kind of mental illness? If we’re so quick to leap into religious discussion about devils, battles between Good and Evil, why can’t we also leap into discussions about reincarnation? Okay, it might not be written about in one or another’s holy books…but are computers written about in said holy books? Cars? The concepts of space travel, or capital gains? So, if so, then we might begin to see that perhaps we are the creators of the violence in the world, not some unseen, inherent Evil, but a very personal misunderstanding of confused energy and feelings. Fear. That through the misunderstanding of our feelings, our urges, in the case of uncorrelated experiences to a person’s current life experiences, that issues from another life might very well be impacting an individual’s psyche. It might be a useful course of action to follow. Again, how much more “far out” is it to consider reincarnational theory then it is to consider an inherent Devil at odds with God? We all like to use terms like “old soul,” in casual conversation…why use it if we don’t believe it?
As I look at the picture of the boy in his “favorite camouflage helmet,” as I look into his face…his eyes…I do not see a six-year-old child.
I see…a soul with a purpose. I see determination.
I believe we all live multiple lives across Time, and that these lives impact each and every other life (our own and others’). Though I don’t believe these lives are lived chronologically, I use the term “reincarnation,” which typically seems to imply (at least in casual conversation) linear chronology. I believe God does allows us our lives…but beyond that, it’s all up to us to create and live them. And this “allow” is meant metaphysically deeply. Is far from a trite utterance. I mean it to mean each of us chooses our lives, our challenges within them, and our physical entrances and exits into corporeal existence, including all that implies.
I feel the abovementioned picture of Jesse shows the spirit and determination of a soldier from another life “come back” to perform a deed (okay, it’s now January 1st, 4:51 a.m. or so, as I reworked this passage, and another Shinedown song on my iTunes radio, “45” plays. As I wrote the preceding, the following lyrics hit me: “And I’m staring down the barrel of a 45/
Swimming through the ashes of another life…”; here is the link to the rest of the lyrics…interesting how this particular song might apply to both Jesse and the gunman). I can’t help but feel that that picture radiates a soldier in another life coming back to save some children from a very bad, messed-up individual. The reasons for something like this are many and varied, but, perhaps, in that other war-time life there had been some strong ties between Jesse, his parents, Miss Soto, and Lanza that related to the nine children who were able to flee that classroom with their lives. Some…unfinished business. This is what I picked up from Jesse’s picture. This is what the song synchrony seems to be reinforcing as I write and rewrite this post (as I write this now [January 1st], Breaking Benjamin’s “Breath” is playing…).
It’s tragic there was a murderer and victims to this story, and not the return of Jesse and the others to their lives. As I’d mentioned, I’d caught this story in Reader’s Digest, and it greatly moved me, as does any heroic, Human Interest story, but the reincarnational aspects of Jesse’s life jumped out to me…and hopefully pointing this out may help others in whatever ways something like this could and should help…but it does in no way justify the gunman’s actions. That person was obviously deeply and profoundly disturbed (the Sandy Hook Elementary link tells that Lanza was obsessed about writing “…about battles, destruction and war“; this clearly tells me there has to be a reincarnational aspect to his angst, given he was never personally in battle in this life, so it adds additional fuel to the soldier reincarnational theory with Jesse), and we must all take responsibility for our actions in whatever life is our current focus, reincarnational angst or no.
We need to curb our anger our hatred…the violence we inflict upon ourselves and one and other…and we can’t do that with methods that are just not working. While I hail Scarlett’s journey to try to make the world a better place with The Choose Love Foundation, I hope that it goes beyond just preaching that all we have to do is love each other “more” (she does talk of “programs,” but I don’t know what those programs are). We need to understand what is going on that all of a sudden more kids and adults are going into schools and killing each other. Why the sudden epidemic? Why schools? I remember no such instances (not one) from my youth. What has changed and why? We need to develop new methods to combat these kinds of disturbed acts. It’s not just a matter of “choosing” love over violence…it’s also about understanding where the underlying anger and violence are coming from and dealing with them. Stomping anything down—even with love—does not rid one of the problem. It merely compresses it. And as we should all know, with compression comes heat and with heat…explosions. Exploring and understanding reincarnation can be one useful tool in an arsenal of tools. From what I’ve learned, once many grow to quantify and understand their problems…understand why they might feel one way or the other, or from where their problems originate…the problems become manageable. Yes, there are always exceptions, and no, reincarnational theory is not a cure-all, but if such issues arise early in life with no apparent starting point in the current life, where else do you—can you—turn? Sure, possibly genetics, but I feel genetics can also be tied to reincarnation, and I’ve read (in more than one, non-metaphysical, source) that actual genetics can be changed within an individual without so-called scientific (invasive) manipulation.
There are many Whys…many of which I certainly don’t have answers to…but in looking to Jesse’s helmeted picture, I see more than a “mere” six year old involved in saving those nine others…there was a man…a soldier, from another time…who briefly visited our existence to help those who survived to survive. I mean he stood up to the shooter and did not run. Faced him. Why more—why Miss Soto—were not saved gets into deeper metaphysical considerations, upon which there are many books written….
Reincarnation is not just a party discussion (and there has been actual serious research performed on the subject), but a very real possibility that can help us better understand ourselves and be put to use in bettering not only our current lives…but all of our lives.
I salute you, Jesse McCord Lewis. Thank you for performing your mission. You were, indeed, a boy who’d been brave.