It took a few days, but I've processed my feelings on the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and although I didn't know anyone there and wasn't directly affected, it shook me -- as I'm sure it did most of you, too. My cousin manages a theater in Austin and I wouldn't be surprised if he was managing the midnight showing there; my brother and his girlfriend were both at one in my hometown... if anything had happened to any of those three people in my life, or had happened in my hometown, period, I would be distraught, inconsolable, and irate. Just thinking about the possibility makes my heart break and my blood boil for the victims and their loves ones.
Death is something I've dealt with frequently in my life. Because of this, I am constantly coming up with scenarios in my head. Not morbid or anything, and it's not something that consumes me, but because the deaths in my life have been shocking, unexpected and terrifying (minus my grandparents, whom I knew it was their time to go), I always remind myself that life is unpredictable. Before this whole thing happened, I was sitting in a theater about two weeks ago watching Savages and thinking, half way through the movie, that someone could come in the theater and start shooting and we'd have no way of escaping. What would we do? Where would I go? What were the options?
I don't condone living life "preparing for the worst and expecting the best." I think that's a terrible philosophy to have, especially because I believe that infers that we should be fearful. And I don't think we should fear anything. Unfortunately crazy, mental, chemically-imbalanced people come up with plans that make no sense. But still, it's always in the back of my mind... those "what if?" scenarios.
Shooting scenes are something that when I see them, get me every time. I can't watch them and not believe they're real. They terrify me, and I think about them over and over and over. I felt this way during the first Batman movie, during the episode of American Horror Story where we find out Tate was a school shooter; even Inglourious Basterds. These scenes should be things I can dismiss easily - they're not real, right? But in the end they're things we all know could actually happen. I think that's why Friday morning's events really affected me. It could have been any theater, anywhere, anyone. And knowing those innocent people walked in that movie, excited enough to go at midnight; spirits high, awaiting to watch a show that would take them away from any real problems, issues or fears they had in real life. Now they'll never have a chance to try to fix the problem, work out the issue, or overcome the fear. They didn't get a choice in the matter.
I said this on Facebook on Friday but I truly hate it when people say things "aren't fair" or "life is unfair." That's exactly right... get over it. That's how I think most of the time. But I can't help but to say this whole situation is so unfair. I felt this way only a handful of times in my life: Columbine, September 11th; my aunt's murder in 7th grade. I know God has plans, and I trust him, but none of this is fathomable or fair to anyone involved. It's not fair that a psychopathic lunatic who thinks he is The Joker -- even Heath Ledger commented that playing that type of character plagued him -- can get the validation of walking into a public place and stealing the lives of 12 people and injuring (possibly crippling) numerous others because he came up with some insane plan to do so. That he can use his knowledge and intelligence (being a med student -- I think I heard he dropped out a month ago) for evil. It's not fair that he can takes lives of innocent moviegoers and, consequently, tear apart the lives of the people who loved them.
I can go on and on but it's not going to do any good. But I do want to say that we should consistently reach out to people. You never know what they're going through or how any positive or negative comment can affect them. I have to wonder the last time his parents checked on him, or any family member had. I am curious if he had any friends, or coworkers, or anyone that cared about him. It's clear there is something psychologically wrong with him, and it's chilling that he's only 24 years old. We need to stop living life ignoring our periphral vision. Instead, look around and chat with people. Let them open up to you.
I know there are plenty of times I would rather not meet with people... either because I'm exhausted, or they're exhausting, or I just have no desire to deal with them. But we're not called to do everything we want to do all the time. Next time your friend wants you to go to coffee but you've just eaten, suck it up and go. They may be asking you because they need a confidant or someone to lean on -- not just to see you. And if you haven't heard from a friend or family member in awhile, give them a call and try as hard as you can to get in touch and see them. Don't give up on the first try. Love is persistent, and the last thing you want is to realize you didn't do everything you could, for that person, if they end up in a traumatizing time in their life.
While I do wonder about his parents and friends, I also know that a lot of children are not a result of their upbringing. I know so many wonderful people who had a hard childhood, with parents who shouldn't be allowed to have children. On the other hand, I've met absolutely outstanding parents, who give all the love and guidance they can -- and I'd never recognize who their children were, because they're nothing like them. I just hate that his parents are getting the blame for a lot of this when the fact is that he's a grown man, and he should know right from wrong. Any logical human being would know buying weapons and ammunition to shoot up a theater is completely and utterly disgusting, absurd and animalistic.
Further, I know a lot of people are saying we should ban costumes from theaters and "how could they not tell something was wrong when some weirdo with guns and a gas mask came in?" First off, he came in through an exit door in the theater. He had this planned out to a T. Nobody would have known. Second, we can't let crazy people ruin everything for us. If that's the case, we all should stop going to movies for fear of this happening again. (Which, admittedly, I did stay away from that movie this weekend for fear of similar acts.) I don't recall any theaters letting people in with masks or face paint ever, so if Batman fans want to dress up in costume, they should be allowed to. It's just sad that the people who don't comprehend that life shouldn't imitate art (in this instance) would ruin our cinematic experience -- and our lives. I have always wondered why they don't have metal detectors at theaters though. Still, even if they did, this particular incident wouldn't have been prevented.
I read this on Twitter and it stuck with me: I hope that those affected, those who lost loved ones, and those who are suffering through it all right now... I hope they find peace that surmounts understanding. There is no way to understand why these things happen, but just know that you will get through it, and a blessing will come out of it. It might not be right away, soon, or even comprehensible right now. But at some point, your heart will ache a little less, and your tears will dry up more quickly.
You'll still remember it, and it will still hold a piece of your heart, but one day you will be okay.