My four year old son came home with a note that he did not listen well in school and was having a hard time getting along with the other kids. This was not the first time this child had come home after a challenging day, but recently he had really been trying hard and was doing much better.

I casually asked him what happened that day in school and he responded, “Jacob made me be bad.”

"No one makes you be bad..."“Jacob made you be bad? How did he make you be bad?” I asked.

My son continued to explain that because this other child was doing bad things and urging him to, so he had made him be bad.

At this point I sat my son down for a very serious conversation which began with, “No one makes you be bad. If you didn’t behave today in school, you were responsible for that. You chose how you were going to act. Maybe someone else upset you, or bothered you, or suggested that you do certain things, but no one made you be bad. The only person who made you be bad was you.”

I cannot tell you if my son came up with this excuse on his own. If this was something he truly believes or rather, if this was something that he thought might work. But regardless, it appears to be a way out of responsibility that society today uses quite freely.

I am still trying to process the heinous crime that took place the other week, claiming the lives of 32 innocent victims. The media, hungry for a different angle, a new perspective, anything that will bring more viewers, has been exploiting the pain and suffering to no end.

But what is most shocking to me is that so much time and energy is being spent trying to ascertain whether or not this murderer really had been mistreated in school. Was he picked on? Were the other kids mean? Was he abused?

Maybe. Possibly. Probably. But does it matter? Really, no matter what is discovered, does it matter? Does it take away the fact that 64 parents have lost a child, that hundreds of siblings have lost a brother or sister, that spouses have lost a husband or wife, children a mother or father and countless friends someone they loved or cared for? Is there anything that possibly could have been done to this boy that could make this understandable? Acceptable? No. Absolutely not.

The fact that the media has aired his video, his explanation, is something I find appalling and unacceptable. It is clear that they have done exactly what he wanted done. He didn’t leave a note or video to be found, he mailed it exactly where he wanted it. And the media did exactly what he wanted done with it. He wanted the world to hear his explanation, his confession, his reasoning and his excuse.

And what did he do? He blamed his victims. He blamed you. He blamed me. He blamed the entire world for what he did. He blamed everyone except for the one person that was to blame. Himself.

Because he was mistreated, because people were mean, because he was ignored, or made fun of, or even hated, he decided to hate back. He decided to cause pain for he was pained. And in his path, he killed people who never hurt him and who probably never even knew him.

The media did exactly what he wanted doneAmongst his victims was a Holocaust survivor, Liviu Libreschu. He was killed on the day dedicated to commemorating the Holocaust. Here was someone who had a right to be angry. Who had a right to hate. Who had a right to want revenge. And yet, he didn’t. And he wasn’t the only one.

How many stories have you heard of Jews, after the Holocaust, who randomly started killing Germans or Poles? Did you learn of people in Eastern Europe being scared to leave their homes, to ride public transportation, for fear of retaliation? Were the headlines filled over the past sixty years with one murder after another? Shooting spree after shooting spree? Did you hear of the children of Nazis being tortured for the sins of their fathers?

There were a few isolated incidents. But only a few. The survivors of indescribable horrors, people who had their babies ripped out of their arms and smashed against walls, who watched their parents shot in front of their eyes, who were experimented upon and tortured and beaten, did not live in order to kill others. Those who lived knew that not only did they have a responsibility to live their lives, but they had a responsibility to live their lives for those who couldn’t.

They had a choice. They could create more pain and more darkness in the world, or they could work to change it. And people like Liviu Libreschu decided to make a difference in this world. He decided to help others. To teach. To learn. To educate. And he did exactly that. And he died doing exactly that.

There is no one in this world who has not experienced pain. Some more than others, but life challenges us each in our own way. And we find that those who have done the most good in this world are specifically those who have suffered most dearly. Whether it be an organization dedicated to stopping drunk driving, or finding missing children or seat belt awareness or cures for illnesses, the people behind these missions have lost loved ones to these very causes. And they could have spent their lives bitter and angry, and they could have hurt others like they were hurt. But they didn’t. And their pain has made our lives less painful. Their hurt has helped prevent us from hurting in the same way.

They had a responsibility to live their lives for those who couldn’tThis is how the Torah teaches us to live. The Torah never tells us that life will be easy. It never tells us that we won’t have hardship or that we won’t suffer. If anything, it tells us that we will. But it tells us something else as well. While we are in this world, everything, the good and the seemingly bad, have a purpose. And its purpose is to teach us a lesson and to use that lesson to help another. That is why we are here. That is why we were created. And every day we are given new opportunities.

I urge the media to stop focusing on the past of a killer and to start focusing on the future of those who are making this world a better place. When we allow ourselves to listen to the excuses that a murderer gives, and we give him a platform to be heard, we inadvertently legitimize his right to express himself. When he took the lives of others, when he took his own life, he lost all rights. We have an obligation to mute him. We have an obligation to mute all of those who try to blame others for their actions. And we have a responsibility to teach our children and ourselves that no one, no matter what they have done to us, makes us be bad. As long as we breathe, we choose. And as long as we choose, it is up to us to decide whether or not our actions will make this world a better place.

As the Sage Hillel teaches us: If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”