Amazing post about shooting in Aurora

The original is here.

I feel a little bit morbid, obsessively following the news about this tragedy. It's part morbid fascination, part wanting to honour the people who were shot (even though I don't know them), and part fear that this could happen anywhere, anytime. What were the signs something might happen? What was going through his head? Why would he do something like this? Did he really do it so that a hero would "jump out of the screen," as the writer in the post linked above suggests? Also the fact that I am from Colorado makes me more sensitive to the issue. There was a horrible accident in Texas where more than 10 people died, but I don't have a connection to Texas like I do to Colorado, so it's harder for me to sympathize.

I think being a writer makes me think about these things so much, to build characters. After 9/11, I obsessively watched the news and scoured the internet. Same thing with the West Memphis 3, which happened when I was like 8 (I believe I was the same age as the kids who were killed), but I found out about it later in high school and joined the effort to clear the West Memphis 3's names. I have this weird obsession with cults, too. I like to read about them and wonder why people turn out the way they do, what made them into these crazy religious leaders, and why people follow them so faithfully.

(No, this doesn't mean I'm going to repeat the things I've read about, don't worry.)

 Anyway, back to the post. He says, "It’s true there was no Batman sitting in the theater to fly down and tackle James Holmes, as he hoped there might be. He had tactical assault gear covering his whole body, ready for America to fight back." What's driving me crazy about this whole thing is James Holmes just WILL NOT talk. I imagine more will come out when the trial actually happens, but right now it's maddening not knowing why he did what he did, if there was actually motivation behind it, if he just snapped, and if so, why it took him so long before to actually do it (based on the fact that it apparently took months to set up the explosives in his apartment). And on that note, what was up with the apartment anyway? Why did he rig it?

A bit further down he says, "That is one of our obvious strengths, but it is not our greatest strength. America’s awesome strength to fight is overwhelmed by its irrepressible strength to love. James Holmes took 12 lives Friday. Love saved 58 lives. Policemen on the scene in minutes, strangers carrying strangers, nurses and doctors activated all over the city." I find this sentiment interesting, because yes, it is true, there are so many people who live their lives for others, selflessly giving their time and efforts and expertise to keep people safe, to help people, to heal people...Even to help you find that perfect pair of pants or checking you out at the grocery store, or cleaning your office building after hours. All of these things are so important, and every little bit counts. While at the same time, the government does corrupt things all the time, kills innocent people in wars, doesn't give them health care, allows homeless people to freeze and starve, etc. etc. So while the individuals are doing good things, trying to get through every day, holding doors for people in the mall, giving flu shots, and who knows what else, the collective, the umbrella that is supposed to protect us is not. Individuals feel this love for each other as he says in the post, but the government doesn't (no matter how often or how loudly they say they do). It's interesting how things can be so different on different scales - the large scale and the small scale. Just like he says, "The awe of last night is not that a man full of hate can take 12 people’s lives; it is that a nation full of love can save 300 million lives every day." A nation, yes. The people, maybe. But the powers that be? Not so much.

Granted, the structure of a country is what sets up people to "love" each other and generally do good things. America is not the most horrible country on the planet, that's for damn sure. But there are some things that could be a LOT better, especially for a developed country. No country is perfect, but some are doing some things a little better.

"The answer is we love back. We live back. We deepen our commitments to all the unnumbered acts of kindness that make America an unrendable fabric."

"So while James Holmes settles into the cell where he will spend the rest of his life, wondering what we will do to fight back, we will love back. We will go to a park this afternoon and play soccer, we will go to the playground and restaurants and movie theaters of our city all weekend and all year."

These are nice sentiments. They are mostly true. But he says, "We will love back." Yet, so many people are commenting online on the pictures of Holmes in the court room, saying he should burn in hell, he's a "chickenshit motherfucker," he's a coward, he makes them sick, he should die, etc. etc. I wholeheartedly agree that he did a horrible thing, but I believe every person has the potential for good. This does not excuse him, but come on, he is still a human being. Justice should be served, yes, but do immature comments online really help anything? And if we are going to "love back," why are they pursuing the death penalty? There's nothing loving about the death penalty.

I like the last paragraph: "In a movie theater in Aurora 50 years from now, one of last night’s survivors will be waiting in the popcorn line and mention that he was in Theater 9 on that terrible summer night in 2012. And inexplicably, with an armful of popcorn, a total stranger will reach out and give that old man a huge hug and say, 'I’m so glad you made it.'" Because no matter what you think about James Holmes, or the situation in general, it was tragic, people died, families were hurt and are suffering, and it's an awful thing to have happened. No one is going to deny that, least of all me.

So, I like the post overall. I think it sends a message of hope, overcoming, and he pretty much suggests that by being good people, we can can fight back, and maybe even prevent something like this happening again - at least, that's my take on it, because he says:

"My friends were texting me that they had plans to take their kids to Batman tonight but were now afraid to go. Others who were going to play pick-up basketball or go out to dinner were now afraid to leave home. They thought they would bunker down in their home and wonder, 'How do we fight back?'

The answer is we love back. We live back. We deepen our commitments to all the unnumbered acts of kindness that make America an unrendable fabric. We respond by showing that we will play harder, and longer. We will serve more meals, play more games, eat more food, listen to more jazz, go to more movies, give more hugs, and say more 'thank yous' and 'I love yous' than ever before."

 I think he has a point there. If we would just stop thinking about ourselves so much and be in the moment with those we love, talk respectfully, have fun together, hold the door for people more, say thank you more, tell people you love them more...Maybe society would be lifted up by that, and maybe in a small way it could prevent something like this in the future, especially when children see people behaving in that way.

Sadly, it won't change the whole world, and it won't change all of society. I do believe that it can change in the future, but it will take a long, long time to get there. But maybe what he's suggesting is a good start.

The victims of the 2012 Aurora shooting


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