Kyron Horman

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer. ~ Bertrand Russell

It has been just over a year since Kyron Horman disappeared from his school in Portland, Oregon. Much money and manpower has been spent looking for him, and authorities don’t seem any closer to find him or explaining what happened to him. His stepmother, who was the last person to see him, is not a named suspect. But most people who have followed the story believe she knows more than she has said.

I have been following his story from day one. I don’t know why, but when I saw Kyron’s picture, I took an instant liking to him. Perhaps it’s because he reminds me of my own son.

Some have been critical of the amount of attention Kyron’s story has gotten. They point out that children go missing every day, and ask why Kyron’s story is so special.

A lot of the attention has to do with the tremendous efforts of Kyron’s parents to make sure their son is not forgotten, and to make sure that people keep an eye out for him. I can only applaud their efforts. My heart breaks for them.

My heart breaks for missing and abused children almost every day.

Every time I read of some tragedy committed against a child — all too often by someone they trusted — I whisper “I’m sorry,” as if there was something I could have done to save them. I swear, if I could be granted a super power, it would be to know whenever a child is being harmed, and to be able to bolt to them in an instant to stop it.

I’d never have a moment’s rest.

From a Buddhist perspective, am I causing myself to suffer by clinging to these thoughts? Maybe so. But I find it difficult to be dispassionate about such things. It’s one of the aspects of Buddhism with which I struggle.

There is a scene in Woody Allen’s film Radio Days in which the family is listening to a live radio broadcast of the rescue of a little girl who has fallen down an abandoned well. The scene was inspired by the true story of three-year-old Kathy Fiscus back in 1949. The ensuing rescue effort was broadcast live via radio as well as the still-novel medium of television. I remember my dad telling me about it. The world was riveted by the story.

In the film, as in the real-life incident, the little girl did not survive. The family in the film is quietly devastated by the news. The father, holding his own little girl on his lap through all this, holds her a little tighter, barely able to contain his tears.

In the absence of any super powers, this may be the best I can hope for. These terrible stories will continue to come. I will hold my children a little tighter. And I will keep a watchful eye on all the other children in my small corner of the world.

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4 thoughts on “Kyron Horman

  1. Bill, this is incredibly disturbing. And yet, I don’t think Buddhism advocates “dispassion”; rather, I believe it calls for wise action. Being crippled by fear/hate/anxiety/etc. is hardly helpful to anyone – the adults nor the children. Better to take any anger/angst/pain we feel, and transform it into compassionate, helpful action. (And compassion doesn’t always mean being ‘nice’ – sometimes the most compassionate act a person can make is to be honest, even if that honesty hurts the feelings of someone else. It’s all about intention and motivation…)

    At any rate, I do feel such empathy for the parents of Kyron, and indeed of all missing/hurting children. I wish for a peaceful resolution, and soon…

    1. I know, Stef. The original draft of this post mentioned several other cases, and it just became too much for me. I have tremendous empathy and compassion for Kyron’s parents, and all the parents and children who endure such things. My problem with “dispassion” in Buddhism really stems from my own lack of understanding. Part of me thinks it means being aware of this suffering without becoming emotionally invested in it. But that can’t possibly be right. It’s something I need to bring up with my teacher.

      The nature of hope in Buddhism in another thing we need to discuss. I still hold out hope for Kyron.

      1. I think that Buddhism is FULL of hope. The hope of the end of suffering for all beings – to me, it doesn’t get much bigger/better/grander than that.

        Did you have a sit-down with your teacher? What did s/he say?

  2. I agree with you. But I’ve come across some Buddhist writing that portrays hope as an unrealistic attachment to a future that does not exist. Personally, I think that’s way off base (which is par for the course with me; there are other aspects of Buddhism with which I disagree), I just want to get my teacher’s take on it. (Sensei is a she, BTW.) Right now, though, I’m working on some poems related to the First Noble Truth.

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