I woke up this morning, as I always do scrolling through blog comments. Several of them mentioned Colorado and I knew something terrible had happened. I read the news and immediately felt bad about my previous post that made fun of those midnight moviegoers. I felt worse for the victims of this unspeakable crime.
There is no way to get ones head around what happened in Aurora. Why anyone would walk into a movie theatre and shoot strangers at random is inexplicable.
What’s more inexplicable is why this keeps happening. There’s a 62 page document circulating that recounts all the mass shootings in the United States since 2005. How is it possible that in just seven short years there have been enough mass shootings to support 62 pages worth of documentation?
Why are we killing each other?
Even in the most difficult times, when the housing market crashed and the economy bottomed out this was still a pretty great place to live. We have freedom to do or be anyone we want. To practice whatever religion we choose, to live anywhere, study anything, to move away – whatever suits our whims. There’s a store on every corner that sells almost anything you could want from apples to guns to zip lines. Anything you want, you can get.
So why are we killing each other?
The news reports say that we don’t know much about the young man who allegedly did the shooting, James Holmes. But still, there had to have been something, something somewhere along the line that should have indicated that he needed help.
Why didn’t anyone help him? Why didn’t anyone see that he needed help? I think that’s the gist of the problem in this country, we don’t hear each other.
It’s why down the road from Aurora two young boys named Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were able to build bombs in their garage, then use them to kill 13 people at Columbine High School. It’s why Seung-Hui Cho, despite a long history of mental health issues, was able to buy guns and murder 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. It’s why Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009. It’s why Jared Lee Loughner walked into a grocery store and killed six people in 2011.
It’s also why Jerry Sandusky was able to rape boys for decades without any consequences.
Is there a Jerry Sandusky in James Holmes past? I don’t know. We may never know what traumatizing event caused this young man to become a mass murderer.
But we should try to find out. I don’t think the answer lies in stronger gun laws or banning of certain types of weapons. Because the sad fact is that if someone wants to kill or hurt other people, they’ll find a way. Instead, we should focus on understanding what caused this seemingly normal person to open fire on a theater full of innocent people.
We have to listen. We have to be willing to spend the money to help the mentally ill get assistance and treatment. I don’t think people are just born bad. Something happens that makes them bad. By the same token, we can do something to turn them around.
We can’t put metal detectors everywhere. We can’t ban guns and other weapons. We can’t live in fear that we’ll be the next victims.
But we can listen to each other. Maybe if someone had listened, really listened and heard James Holmes, everyone in that movie theatre would have gone home last night. If we as a community of people decided that listening to each other was important, that caring about your fellow man was worth the effort, perhaps twelve people – people who only wanted to see the newest Batman movie – wouldn’t have died last night.
Now is the time – to listen.