Thoughts on the Dark Knight Rises Theater Tragedy

By now, you’ve likely heard the terrible news we woke up to in Colorado this morning.  It is a sad day.

This happened in my own community, just a few miles from my home.  That’s a violating experience.  I appreciate all the calls, texts, and social media messages checking on our welfare.  While we are safe, many more families are in a state of shock, confusion, and grief.  I have friends and acquaintances that were at the theater, among the first-responders, and are currently working at the medical centers treating victims.  It’s overwhelming.

The emerging details are horrifying, frightening, and sickening.  Many lives have been forever impacted.  The anonymous armies of the net are quick to point out the various religious and political blame and finger-pointing, not to mention the usual pro/anti weapons discussion, but the assumed motivations of the person responsible shouldn’t matter right now. The focus should be on the people and lives affected.  Families out for evening of simple enjoyment may never psychologically be able to go to a movie again.  First-responders, police, and firemen were greeted with images of horror they may never forget.  As I type this, many more are actively putting their lives at risk to disarm the devices in the individual’s home.  Keep them in your thoughts.

And of course, this reopens the emotional wounds from the Columbine tragedy from thirteen years ago.  I was painfully close to the events at that time, and I found all those feelings came right back – heartbreak, confusion, frustration, sorrow.  The daily emotional ordeal from Columbine lasted for many months for me, and I anticipate this will be similar in some ways.  My head and heart hurt right now.  The unfortunate link between the events are understandable, but it’s still tough to see the entire state of Colorado being painted with a very broad and negative brush nationally.  This is a beautiful and safe community, and a wonderful place to work, live, and raise a family, but the fact is we’ve had two mass shooting tragedies in thirteen years.  That is unfathomable to me.  Combined with the recent fires in Colorado Springs, this has been a very rough summer for our us.

What will be the fallout from this?  Will anyone be able to go to a theater and feel safe?  I know my family doesn’t want to see any movies right now.  Will there be copycats?  What about foolish people playing ‘pranks’?  I hope this is an isolated incident, and we are able to get back to some sense of normalcy soon.  It’s a frightening reality that we go to places where we are vulnerable, but we cannot let the isolated actions of a depraved individual change the way we go about our daily lives.  It’s not easy, but we must.

Jessica Ghawi Redfield was on of the victims. She was an aspiring broadcaster and intern with the local sports networks, and, eerily enough, barely avoided tragedy at the Eaton Centre Mall shooting in Toronto just a few weeks ago.  She detailed her experiences on her blog.  Below is a beautiful and thought-provoking excerpt:

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday… I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

Use this tragedy to think about your own life.  Find a way to help someone.  Hug your kids.  Call your parents.  Reach out to an old friend.  Donate blood.  Resolve a long-standing feud.  Volunteer.  It sounds trite, but life can change in an instant and without warning, and events like this help remind us of what we take for granted.

Please keep the people of our community in your thoughts and your prayers today, tomorrow, and the near future.  May God bless you, and keep you safe.


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