This one goes out to all those who are hurting after the deadly shooting in Aurora, Col. last night. The mass-shooting by 24-year-old James Holmes at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie matches the death-toll (minus the two shooters) of Colorado’s other famous mass-shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. Twelve people are dead, dozens more are injured.
In all honesty, we will probably never know why Holmes walked into a crowded movie theater and opened fire. And after the dead are buried and the mourning period wanes, we will still be left with that question. The same question that haunts us after the Virginia Tech shooting five years ago.
Why? Why did this happen?
And that is the place where we are all meeting now. All of us, not just those who knew the victims — and my heart goes out to those people. When a tragedy like this happens, we all feel it. Our collective subconscious turns the question over, again and again. We shudder at the thought that this could have happened to us, or our kids, or our best friends…
Those people just went to the movies, for heaven’s sake! A movie, by the way, that is all about a hero who overcomes the darkness inside himself — who rises above the pain and trauma of his past to become something better. Maybe it’s a silly comic book movie. But for a lot of people, myself included, there is hope for us broken toys in that story. I’m no superhero. But we all need things to inspire us to the greatness that lives inside us. And so, there is something painful in the symbolism of annihilation and the villain winning when all you wanted to do was lose yourself in a movie universe where when scary things happen, they are righted by a powerful force of good and justice. And good always wins in the end. And nobody dies. (My friend PJ has a nice piece that touches on this, too.)
I don’t know the answers any more than the talking heads on cable news or the pundits in the pulpits. Just like always, we will struggle with this like a pebble boring a blister into our foot as we walk along doing the business of life. And, eventually, it will grind down and not hurt so much.
We grieve. We cling to hope over despair. We live. And eventually, we laugh again.
My deepest condolences to those who have lost someone in this tragedy.