“Tears at times have all the weight of speech.” Ovid
My heart continually breaks as I hear the stories of the people who were killed in the Colorado theatre. The pain in the voices of the loved ones sharing anecdotes about the people they lost moves me to tears. How could the thrill of an evening out to see a much-anticipated movie turn into an unspeakable tale of horror? Not even in my worst nightmare could I even come close to the sensation of what it must have felt like to be trapped in a theatre with a mad man intent on killing everyone in his path. Some who survived this horrific attack told of how the gunman walk up and down the aisles, shooting wildly, targeting all, but especially those who tried to escape. The sounds of rapid gunfire, people screaming, running, crying, moaning, lifeless bodies falling to the ground, these are the sounds and images that survivors will be haunted with for the rest of their lives. Undoubtedly, some survivors may be overcome with feelings of guilt for having made it out of the theatre alive. Gratitude to have survived this attack will almost surely be tempered with thoughts of “why,” why did they survive while others perished, including a six-year-old child.
Surely in the days and weeks to come we will hear more about the lives that were lost in this tragedy, likewise, there will be a flurry of reports and psychological analysis with respect to the shooter. Questions like “What was the motive behind this attack,” What was his childhood like?” “Were signs that he was planning this attack evident?” “Is he insane?” will flood the airwaves. I’m certain that the family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors of the shooter will be chased down by the media for interviews, the “crown jewel” going to the media outlet that snags an interview with the shooter. Personally, I have no interest in spending my time learning about the individual who callously gunned down 12 people and who is the cause of countless cases of physical and psychological trauma that those caught in the web of this attack will no doubt carry with them for the rest of their lives. My love and concern goes out to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who were killed and harmed by this attack. I pray that in the frenzy to decimate information about the shooter that the individuals who lost their lives, their families, and the survivors are not forgotten. I hope that the diligence of the emergency room doctors, first responders, and police personnel don’t become an afterthought.
By now, you may have noticed that I have not called the shooter by his name. This is intentional. I don’t plan on giving this individual the platform he desired to achieve through this heartless and deranged attack by further pushing his name out into the public. Too often, the names and faces of the victims of these sorts of attacks fade into the background, while the face and the name of their assailant(s) becomes etched into the publics psyche. I hope that this mad man does not become some sort of celebrity, that he is forgotten and locked up in a prison cell for the rest of his days. Of course, no matter what ends up happening, the reality is that lives of those harmed by this attack will never be the same. There will never be a moment when this tragedy didn’t happen, and while their lives needn’t be destroyed by this event, it will nonetheless be difficult and require lots of love and support to shoulder.
The awful and painful truth is that we live in a world where lives can come undone in the blink of an eye. Life is precious, fragile, and not guaranteed beyond the present moment. Honor the life you have been given, and if possible, become a light in the life of those who are struggling to make it through a dark night.