Friday, July 20, 2012
Mourning for Aurora
I spent the morning going through a series of reactions to the horrible massacre at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado.
My daughter and son-in-law were at a midnight showing of the Batman movie, so my first fear was that the news headlines might be a local story. Then I was very glad to find my kids were safe and sound. Then I was heart broken to think about the parents, friends and lovers who's loved ones will not be coming home safe from the movies.
Then I started to wonder what kind of darkness could have invaded a person's mind and soul to make them plan and carryout such a horrific attack? I would like to believe that it takes a monster to do such a thing. But I have a sinking feeling that any one of us can get into such a state if we let our internal lives become dark and angry and empty enough. This guy had to be freaking out in some really bad ways to do this!
Then I started wondering: How many people around this kid noticed that he was having trouble and didn't reach out? How many times did this kid struggle with his problems and not reach out for help? Did he feel so isolated by our modern world and his personal situation that he had no one to turn to?
I don't know that we will ever get any good answers to those questions.
But I do know that we have to monitor our own internal spaces, our own feelings and thoughts, and if they are getting too dark and too angry or hopeless we need to reach out for the help we need. We cannot lash out like this. And if we have people around us in need help and healthy human contact we must try to reach out to them.
I am a huge Geek. I love comics, including Batman. There is lots of violence and psychosis on display in these books and the movies based on them. Do I think that those displays of fictional violence and madness make people do these kinds of things in the real world? NO!
Hundreds of thousands of Geeks gather every year at a variety of events like the San Diego Comic Con without any major disturbances. In fact, fewer disturbances than comparably-sized events of other types (sporting events, political rallies, etc) seem to manifest. Geeks are pretty peaceful lot. Geeks like me prefer for our violence and craziness to be Fictional, safely contained and displayed in comics and movies where we can deal with it as mythology and story. We do not want this kind of violence and madness in the real world of kids and families. We like Geeking Out about things, not Freaking Out.
My heart breaks for Aurora, America and the World.
Humans are an empathetic and communal species. We share in the joys and pains of those around us. And despite horrible incidents like this one, this kind of violence and murder is on the decline. We have a lot of possibility as a species. But we do have to continue to find ways help members of our families and communities that are having difficulty before they devolve to the point that they will lash out in such a brutal and destructive manner.
We need to Freak Out Less and Geek Out More.
-- Jay Larsen
(It probably doesn't need to be said, but Yes, I modified that panel of a batman comic. The words are mine. The art is not.)