There is a pall over Colorado as there is most of the United States. It is not the first time nor will it be the last. Maybe it’s particular to me because that movie theater is but a few miles from my front porch.
I sat there Sunday morning reading the newspapers and doing the Sunday crossword puzzles. All was calm but all was not bright.
The simple question I keep asking myself is “ How did we get here?” Some say the gunman was sick. Some say he was inherently evil. We all watch footage after footage searching in vain for an answer. We will probably never know. There are guns. That won’t change. There are terribly sick people out there. We have 330+ million citizens. Some are just not right. Don’t try to hide. You can’t. It’s the world we live in.
Then I asked myself if such is the case, what can we do? Mental illness is caused by one of or a combination of four factors: heredity, a horrible experience, chemical imbalance or environment. That may be too simplistic for you scientists but for the moment let’s just take it as a given.
The only real culprit we can even begin to attack is our environment…..our world. I think back to my formative years and I try to compare that to today. A little overwhelming. I can’t help but feel we have let the world rule us. We have such an urge for acceptance that we have forgotten how to be HUMAN beings. Everything is served up. Nothing is questioned. We eat it all.
We have made it easy for bullies. They don’t hang out in schoolyards. They reside at keyboards. You don’t have to spread rumors by whispering. You can just text anonymously. In seconds. Bullies aren’t just young kids. They are our rumormongers, shit stirrers and spin doctors. Throw it out there and see if it will stick. Who cares about facts?
As you know I try to listen to both conservative as well as liberal radio and TV to keep myself grounded. Not easy. Both sides are incessant. Depending on your flavor, you can in three short hours get so whipped up for or against you might just go out and shoot someone. Think that’s crazy? Just listen to the unending tirades and imagine cooped up somewhere inhaling that every day, week in, week out. Something or someone just might snap.
Go to a dinner party. Have a few drinks. Watch how seemingly civil people get so bent out of shape that rational conversation just goes out the window. And we consider ourselves the intelligentsia. I had dinner with a friend who is both smart and influential. As I tried to engage him I could see his heels digging in. He has since sent me emails by the truckload. Some to be considered. Many laced with vitriol and bile. I am not shocked but saddened by the hatred.
Most of all we have all sought out and are very comfortable within our cocoons. Rich. Poor. Left. Right. East. West. North. South. We love hearing what we want to hear. Complex problems are solved with a huzzah. Go get’em. Kill the son of a bitch. Boy, that feels so much better. “You rich bastards don’t know what it’s like.” “You stupid jerk. Get a job!”. We are sure we are right. And right is might.
After 9/11 we had a wonderful resurgence of love and respect for one another. We all were hit. We were all one. Our cocoons were broken open and we really did walk a several miles in other people’s shoes. But how soon we forgot. That was just a passing fancy. Had to get back to the real order of things. Climb back inside. How sad.
It may sound redundant or even hyperbole but we have to change. From Washington down to Main Street. It could start with the elections. Tell me what you can do that’s positive and not what an asshole the other guy is. Will it happen? Probably not. But don’t forget they do it because you and I buy it. Negative sells.
I am not one of those that think I have the answers. I am struggling not only with Aurora but what we have become. We are so aloof to the world and each other. There is so much bad. But then again there is and could be so much more good.
I am going to ask you to try just two things. First of all I would like you to go out today and engage someone you have never met. Just say hello and tell them your name. Ask them to do the same to someone else. That’s it. A simple but very attainable bit of connection.
Secondly, I would like you to answer a question. Just what did you do this day or week to make the world a better place? Several years ago I sat in Jim Hesburgh’s den. His brother, Fr. Ted Hesburgh of Nortre Dame was there and we drank a few scotches. I finally asked him what drove him. He said, “Every day of my life I try to correct injustice.” What an incredible way to live. There is no way I could put it any better.
Ted The Great.
The US has about 270,000,000 guns or 90 per 100 people. The 100 includes children.
A semi automatic weapon can usually fire 45-60 projectiles per minute. The shooter in Aurora supposedly used an AR15 with a 100 round drum magazine. I can’t verify so it is only a semi factoid.
59 million adults and children play video games. 89% of the best sellers are labeled violent. You can win points by murder, rape and overall violence in the eyes of the judges. What a country!
In defense of violent games:
“What regulators fail to recognize is how violent video games can actually benefit adult gamers.
For one, violent video games allow a player to enter and control a fantasy world to act out scenarios he or she otherwise wouldn’t.
“[A] teen can try out different identities — how it feels to be a hero, a trickster, a feared or scorned killer or someone of a different age or sex — in the safe fantasy world of a video game,” said Cheryl K. Olson in a New York Times article.
Don’t you feel better now.