Archived Story

Contempt was motive in Waseca

Published 11:04am Thursday, May 8, 2014

My husband, Bruce, and I share in the immense relief the relatives and friends of students at Waseca Junior and Senior High School feel, who are now sitting around their dinner tables with their children, watching their baseball games or just talking about their school day — instead of the devastating possibility of standing over a hospital bed or worse, attending a funeral.

As a NYC school teacher and parent, I am concerned. What almost occurred in Waseca sounds yet another clear alarm: that school killings must end! As parents, we must tell your readers there is knowledge — logical and kind — that can end these tragedies and answer the question being asked over and over again — how can this happen?

Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by Eli Siegel, explains why John David LaDue was driven to amass an arsenal of guns and bombs with the intent to annihilate his family and fellow classmates. Aesthetic Realism explains that it is contempt, the feeling in people that says, “If I can make less of this and this and this, my glory is greater.”

As he gathered and stored guns in his Midwestern garage, was there this impelling feeling: “I can reign supreme by doing whatever I want, even kill other human beings I know”?

Contempt, we learned, is the cause of all injustice and every human cruelty. As husband and wife, parents and selves, we’ve seen that contempt can be so ordinary — when, for instance, one spouse constantly interrupts the other, or we get pleasure from making fun of someone at our job. Carried far enough, and without the quick, kind thoughtful action taken by Chelsie Schellhas and Katie Harty — to whom we all are grateful — LaDue’s contempt would have led to multiple murders and searing agony in this southern Minnesota community.

In his book “James and the Children,” Eli Siegel explains: “As soon as you have contempt, as soon as you don’t want to see another person as having the fullness that you have, you can rob that person, hurt that person, kill that person.”

It is urgent that there be a national study of contempt in the towns, cities  and states of America, so that people can learn to see each other with the fullness each deserves, and safety and kindness can prevail.


Lauren Phillips Blaustein

New York