At sporting events we all experience elation and crushing defeat through our team. At movie theatres we gather in the dark and let a filmmaker tell us their story. We go from happy, to sad, to brave, to fearful, and back up through courage and hope. We share these feelings with friends and family, as well as total strangers. We may share a high-five with a nameless fan at a baseball game, or an imperceptible breath of relief, joy, or hope as the lights come up in a theater. We may look at each other just for a moment with glassy eyes and not say a word. As human beings we are capable of this unspoken intimacy with one another. We are wired to experience the same feelings.
Early this morning there was a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, CO, not so far from my home. The shooter, a 24 year old man, kicked in the exit door, dropped tear gas, and started shooting. I do not think it is by accident that he chose the new Batman movie to exercise his psychopathy: a key scene in the film has the villain destroying a football stadium during a game. Maybe the shooter felt a connection to this, or that he was being clever, or ironic. Whatever his intention 14 people are now dead, and 50 more are injured. Some people are not wired like the rest of us.
A high frequency of shootings, in completely random areas, has made it a problem for everyone. Places where we once mused, “Oh, that would never happen here,” are host to the unimaginable. News networks don’t make it any easier on us. This morning’s shooting will no doubt be today’s top story. Networks will declare, “we will be with you all day as more develops,” as if they are holding our hands through a crisis. What developments are we waiting for? Nothing can develop to take back the event. We watch from our couches as our angst perpetuates and we wait for something to resolve, perhaps hoping that justice will supply relief. When we finally step outside we will do so with caution, giving passing strangers a wide berth.
I am not trying to cast blame. It isn’t the fault of the news or movies. It is the fault of the person who made the conscious choice to destroy lives. Some people are misguided by years of neglect, lack of belief in themselves, or being ignored – they are a product of the fear they themselves will one day end up causing. My sympathy can only go so far. Some people are just bad from the start. I don’t know what can be done about that. I just know it is frightening, and it makes us all afraid at times.
But, there are far more good people in this world than there are bad. They are the people we hug and high-five, hurt and frustrate, care for and love. We work with them. We ride bikes with them. We exercise with them. We argue and fight with them. We cry and laugh with them. They are the people that call and text us from 1800 miles away to make sure we weren’t in the theater. They are the people that make the world less frightening.