My eyeballs nearly bugged-out of my eye sockets when hearing of Carl Ericsson’s motive for shooting Norman Johnson twice at his home in Madison, South Dakota. Did Norman Johnson, or some of his high school buddies, actually put a jockstrap on Carl’s head in the locker room sometime back in the 1950s? No one has verified this ancient bullying incident, outside of mentally challenged Carl Ericsson, who only vaguely suggested it to his brother and to his psychiatrist.
It’s not such a great leap of faith to imagine this may be only one of reasons why Ericsson shot Johnson twice in the face, when Norman answers an ordinary doorbell ringing on January 31st of this year. But what other beefs or grudges did Carl have against his popular and successful high school classmate? Had he even had any contact whatsoever with this man throughout the years?
The news sources I looked over couldn’t really shed any light on this pertinent issue: what caused this grudge to fester within an already troubled man, then to grow way out of proportion, and ultimately, homicidal madness possesses him completely? This is, why I believe, such a mind blowing story of a 50 year old grudge is going viral on the internet! We try to put ourselves in his same shoes, but they just don’t fit!
Well, maybe we’re starting to understand him a little better, once we see it in the light of this social context. Maybe Carl thinks his reduction to failure in life begins with this tiny charade with the jockstrap. And yet Johnson climbs the social (Jock) ladder, and becomes a successful coach at Madison. Mr. Ericsson went on to become a depressed alcoholic who was taking four different medications. Quite a stark contrast between the two, like night and day.
One turns out good, the other goes rotten. But now I’m thinking of the real reason why this story is going viral on the major social media sites. We want to feel better about ourselves, so we’re saying to ourselves (or posting comments underneath Carl’s crazy story, on Facebook or Twitter) that we are Christians who always forgive our enemies. We let bygones be bygones and go on our merry way through life, forgiving those who have wronged us in any way.
We may be slightly telling little white lies, but it doesn’t matter, since we can let Carl be the punching bag, as the man who couldn’t let go of some hard feelings he held for a full half a century. He’s the crazy one, not us; he’s Old Testament, we’re strictly New Testament. Eric’s straight up an eye for an eye, we’re (with our Friends on FB at least) Turn the Other Cheekers when slapped by a beastly braggadocio of a bully!
In the final analysis, we don’t really know what happened between Carl and Norman, in a crowded gym locker, fifty years prior. Moreover, we believe it shouldn’t have made any difference (ultimately), or have impacted these two men’s lives so dramatically, that one man dies because of it. And yet, with this version of events, as it turns out, it does make a difference. Thus, because of this contradiction, our curiosity drives us to the brink of reasonable inquiry, as to just what may’ve been going on inside this man’s mind throughout the years.