by James Tabor
Shock, sadness, sorrow, silence for
all those in Colorado in their suffering and loss.
Sunday: Watching the CBS “Sunday Morning” coverage of the Colorado tragedy and listening yesterday to the many commentaries on this “close to home” tragedy prompted a few thoughts. Someone pointed out about how we all, and especially our children, go to films to escape the grind of our daily reality and delve collectively and temporarily into an imaginary world, sitting together communally in a dark theater. We all know the atmosphere and if anything it is first and foremost safe. In all the comments about what would have motivated the shooter one stood out–he was most likely, in a word, forgettable. His was not the cause of a suicide bomber or a revolutionary, nor was his hatred directed against any certain ethnic group. He wanted to somehow, in this horrible way, to find notoriety and “instant fame” in a world that was largely ignoring him, even with his education and promise. Some have reported that he was working at McDonalds, even given his college degrees that had been awarded with honors.
Saturday: Like millions of other Americans I have been watching the TV coverage of the Aurora, CO shooting. This weekend feels heavy with the aftermath. President Obama and former Governor Romney have suspended their campaigns. Virgina Tech, Ft. Hood, and Columbine High School are being mentioned in all the news reports, not to mention Utoya Island, Norway and others of more distant memory. According to reports there are about 20 mass shootings in the U.S. per year. Most of these are males, striking out at an alienated family or because of a grievance–often the loss of a job. We even have an expression now in English, regarding someone “going Postal.” These seem somehow more “understandable” than those random shootings, usually by a 20s something male, armed to the teeth like a military comando, who strikes out on a campus or public place, for no specific grievance.
This weekend has caused me to think about our natural ability to identify with those like us and close at home–on a campus, at a school, in a mall, in a church, or at a movie theater. What is more difficult is to even track or be aware of these kinds of slaughters that go on daily on the planet all over the world, in countless countries and cultures, either by lone gunmen on a rampage or a militia type group that indiscriminately mows down innocents for this cause or no cause. Most cases are not even reported in the Western press, unless they happen in the U.S. or Europe. Wikipedia tries to keep track of “rampage killers” worldwide for all causes but one gets the sense a full tally would be impossible, and few of these any of us have ever heard of. In the meantime we mourn our own, which is as it should be, but one can’t help aching a bit as well for all those untold victims of senseless violence worldwide, including the daily toll of “suicide bombers” that have become so common they are hardly even reported.