Sunday, July 22, 2012

End of Story

Sometimes, horrific things happen. They grab the headlines and leave us with our heads shaking. They make us realize that life is precious, unpredictable, and always too short, and then we grab our precious ones and hold them tight for a moment or two. Eventually the horror wears off, but the wariness remains.

A few dyas ago such an event happened in Aurora, Colorado. In a movie theater. For a moment I had the fleeting thought, oh great, now everybody's gonna be afraid to go to the movies, just like it seemed most of us were afraid to fly after 9-1-1. And I thought, be ruled by your fears and then you let the bully win. Terrorist, bully, nutter, anarchist, rebel -- they win when what they do becomes the story, and when what they do makes us afraid to the point of irrational response.

It's a delicate balance. On the one hand, outrage, fear, indignation and caution are natural responses to such acts of violence. Our hearts go out to the victims, and to their families, and we go around feeling grateful it wasn't us. Then we look to the perpetrator and ask why. As if why mattered. When a crazy person commits an act so anti-social, he or she is way out of the norm. They are sociopaths. There is no way to understand insane behavior.

But the shooter becomes the story. He wins. The victims are mourned, buried, and forgotten -- it is the cruel reality of the conscious mind. We move forward and victims are left behind. Their stories are done.

I don't like saying those words. I think of my own life, a very lucky one in most respects. I think of my own death, whenever that may occur, and I realize that a few people will miss me for as long as they live but most of them will move on, me a distant memory (hopefully warm and fuzzy), but my story will be done. We climb up on the bones of the dead, but we climb up.

Somewhere, a ferry overturned, and 146 people died. 20 people died in suicide bombings in Afghanistan. Syrian civilians are being killed daily; a handful of their government officials were killed in a bombing a few days ago. All this happened at about the same time as the Aurora shooting. A hundred years from now each event may warrant a footnote in the history of the world, but probbably won't even get a mention.

But we live in the now.

President Obama said something profound in response to the Colorado tragedy, when he asked for a moment of silence for the vitims and their families. He added, "and for the less publicized acts of violence that occur in this country every day." He could have said, throught the world.

As long as our nature is what it is, these things will happen, end of story.

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