Where is Peter Lanza?

December 21st, 2012 by | Print

It’s been a week since the horrific tragedy in Connecticut and people are still trying to make sense out of what happened at Sandy Hook.   I’m sure the families of the victims are still in utter and complete shock as they bury their children.  In the coming weeks, as they move through the stages of grief, they will naturally focus more on why this happened.  They will want answers to their questions.  While there’s no making sense out of such a horrendous act, there’s somebody out there who has some important light to shed and could help with the healing.

I can’t imagine the pain and suffering Peter Lanza is experiencing right now.  As the father of the shooter he is left to carry the burden for what his son did.   Regardless of the extent of his relationship with his wife and son, he is in mourning.   At the same time, his life is now open to public scrutiny from everyone – forever.  Even though he provided his ex-wife with a beautiful home and a more than sufficient annual income, some have speculated that he abandoned his wife and son for the arms of another woman.  Others have said that he’s a workaholic who became consumed with his career over raising his emotionally needy son.  Some have advocated for just giving him grace and support as he grieves his loss.  Regardless of what you believe, one thing is for sure – in the eyes of many, Peter Lanza will be the villain and scapegoat for what his son did.

According to all accounts, Peter Lanza has gone underground to escape the media frenzy surrounding his family.  It’s clear he has consulted with a PR firm and attorney to determine a strategy for dealing with this unthinkable situation.   As history is a good predictor of the future, Peter Lanza will undoubtedly be sued by some of the families for his part in “raising a monster”.  And I’m sure he knows that.   He released a craftily worded statement shortly after the murders and we haven’t heard from him since.  The statement said the following:

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those who were injured.  Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy.  No words can truly express how heartbroken we are.  We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can.  We too are asking why.  We have cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.  Like so many, we are saddened, but struggling to make sense of what has transpired”.

What was missing from his release was one very simple but extremely important word – sorry.    Without an apology, all the other words seem to ring hollow.   I’m sure his advisors told him not to admit to anything that might incriminate him in the future.  I think this is a huge mistake.  A simple acknowledgement of the horrific actions of a family member would bring some sense of comfort to the families who just lost a precious child.  While an apology doesn’t bring their child back or lessen their grief, it would provide some level of comfort to know a father was sorry for the actions of his son.   It’s one simple word.  Why was it left out of his statement?

People typically sue when they feel like there is silence and nobody is acknowledging the wrongdoing.  Sure, in our litigious society people will sue for just about anything.  But most of the time people just want somebody to be remorseful for the transgression committed against them.  I’m no legal expert but acknowledging his son’s crime and apologizing on behalf of the family would not be an admission of his own guilt.

Nobody can put themselves in Peter Lanza’s shoes.  I can’t possibly know the anguish he is feeling right now.   I don’t think anybody can completely blame him for going underground.  But I would advise him to rethink his strategy of bringing in outside “professionals” to water down his message to America.  Instead, I would advise him to find a way to open heartedly extend his sympathy and sorrow individually to each family.  It would be huge if he could reach out to each family of each fallen victim personally and share his condolences.  While I can only speculate that I might ever have the strength or stamina to do so, I would try my darndest to walk directly into the pain and suffering of each family and engage in the difficult conversation.  If I didn’t have the ability to reach out personally, then maybe I would write them each a note.  I don’t know exactly what I’d do, but there’s one thing I do know, silence only makes matters worse.  I have to believe that entering into the pain and suffering alongside the victims families would somehow help the healing process for all.

Like Peter, in difficult situations my first reaction is to run the other way and disappear as quickly as I can.  What I’ve learned through my many failures is that this instinct keeps me mostly weak and ineffective.  I now know that a man is made to move swiftly into the abyss and to do whatever he can to bring goodness and light out of seemingly impossible situations.  I’m very good at thinking through every possible reason why not to step into the pain of life.  But when I do lead with great courage – I never feel more like a man.  And I know my strength and vulnerability, when standing side by side, can bring healing and hope to the most desperate of circumstances.

Now I don’t have millions of dollars to shelter from potential lawsuits so it’s a lot easier for me to give advice.  But if I’m Peter Lanza, I have to imagine that protecting his net worth is not worth the piece of mind he could obtain by dealing head on with this situation.  I don’t think there’s any price tag on bringing some sense of healing to the families of the victims – as well as his own wounded heart.

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