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June 1, 2014 | by  | in Features Online Only |
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The Cost of Happiness: The Elliot Rodgers case

“[He] wept for the end of innocence, [and] the darkness of man’s heart.”

Elliot Rodgers blamed others for his misery. He labelled it a crime that others lived a better life than him. He decided he would act out his revenge against humanity by ending the lives of six innocent people.

College was where he exacted his hatred against self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking individuals, a bitter yet frustrating resentment against those who overlooked him. An agonising and all-consuming envy of those who had what he did not.

Their lives were epitomised by pleasures that he was continuously denied – the loving affection of women, the heart-warming feeling of acceptance, the rewarding experience of living a bright and fulfilling life.

Elliot Rodgers murdered six people before turning the gun on himself.

And the rest of the world is reminded that innocent lives are lost at the hands of those who feel alienated.

Inconceivable heartbreak and anguish is felt for the parents of those who have lost their children, for the parents of Elliot Rodgers himself who heard the news on the car radio, for those who must now endure a perpetual and unimaginable pain caused by someone who felt like he was on the outside looking in.

But then anger sets in.

And we begin to ask ourselves, how the hell does someone justify putting an end to the lives of six innocent people on account of their own unhappiness.

We wish we could tell the perpetrators of these seemingly endless tragedies that there is a way out, that murder is not the answer, that there is a way to feel happy again.

But feeling unhappy, it is not the fault of society.

And it is wrong to blame others for the unhappiness that we ourselves experience.

To use society as a scapegoat for the alienation that he felt, for the suffering he dealt with, for the heartache and seclusion that subsumed him into a relentless panic, it is all a ruse.

Because we are the ones who are in control of our happiness.

We are the ones who must decide to reject the darkening of our hearts in response to pain and hardship.

We are the ones who must overcome the temporary sentiments of loneliness and rejection and inject happiness and fulfilment into our lives.

It is up to us to decide how tomorrow plays out, to decide where we will be this time next year, to decide what the ultimate cost of happiness is.

We all have to make that final decision.

And Elliot Rodgers made his.

And his decision was what Ralph wept over in the final moments of Golding’s Lord of the Flies – “The end of innocence [and] the darkness of man’s heart.”

This was the cost of happiness.

And Elliot Rodgers proved this to be true.


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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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