I debated whether to blog about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. I often feel like we philosophize too quickly on tragedy. We search for meaning in madness and miss our opportunity to grieve.
We like answers and we like blame.
On Friday, I proclaimed feeling more terrorized by this than I had by Al-Qaeda in the last decade (post 9/11 of course). I felt terror in the unknown and unforeseeable-ness of the massacre in Aurora. I wanted to put it in a box full of quips and answers and blame as I spent much of my late teenager and early 20s trying to understand myself while blaming others for all my feelings and reactions. I am most comfortable knowing why.
With blame I don’t have to feel sad. I don’t cry or worry as much because there is a reason for the insanity. I can fix the problem and be better and safer or at least, I can point my finger at the real sicko in the room.
The problems in Aurora are somewhere between numerous and nonexistent. I’ve read articles blaming Hollywood, violent movie, guns — both the lack of regulations and the lack of a gun-toting savior, our mental health system, our troubled youth, social media, our normalization of gun violence, parents who brough young children to the movie première, midnight openings, and a few mentions of the actual the perpetrator although this is not often in the byline unless it is accompanied by WHY.
We want to know: Why did James Eagan Holmes want to hurt people? Why at the Batman movie? Why did one victim avoid being shot in Toronto only to die in Aurora a month later? Why did some people get out? Who shoots a 6-year-old? A 51-year-old? A random stranger? Is he evil? Sick? Angry?
But what we are truly asking is: Did we, as a society, produce him, or did we merely fail to keep him in check?
Even with my degrees and ideologies and perchance for over-thinking, I don’t have answers. Maybe I have finally gotten more comfortable with not understanding why people do what they do. My drive for knowing has done more damage to my relationships than merely accepting that I have no idea what will happen next with some people. With most people.
Do I believe we can stop theses massacres? No. Does that terrify me? Yes.
At a certain time, not today, I think we can discuss lessening the damage a person can inflict on others by having certain guns inaccessible to the general public, and by our mental health system moving beyond stigmas and on to treatments that don’t give people the choice of crazy feelings or no feelings with terrible side effects. I know that public attention is fickle, but we need a few more moments of grieving the victims without wondering why.
“Why” will break a heart a hundred times over. Why does not mend the families or even the nation. The answers given today are band-aids that fall off after a few dips in reality.
Because there isn’t a good answer. There are changes that will probably help, but no one has a baby and thinks “He’s going to grow up to be a wonderful terrorist or serial killer.” I imagine even terrorist want better for their children than to be blown up by a bomb strapped to a chest. But there I go, philosophizing when really I need to stop and say a prayer for the families and friends of the victims in Aurora and a scared nation.
A moment of silence for the following:
Jessica Ghawi, 24
Veronica Moser, 6
Matt McQuinn, 27
Alex Sullivan, 27
Micayla Medek, 23
John Larimer, 27
Jesse Childress, 29
Gordon W. Cowden, 51
Jonathan T. Blunk, 26
Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
Alexander C. Teves, 24
Alexander J. Boik, 18
And the other people in the theater, wounded and witnessed.