Saturday, July 21, 2012

What have we become? Lessons from Colorado ...

By now, you are probably aware of the recent shooting in Colorado, where James Holmes stands accused of opening fire into a crowded movie theater, killing 12 people and wounding 58.  Unfortunately, America has seen far too many incidents like this shooting in recent years.
The first question that comes to mind is 'why?' What prompted Holmes to collect multiple weapons and explosives and inflict a great deal of harm?  I can't promise that I could explain the answer as to why Holmes acted in such a way, but tragedies such as this reveal much about the world we live in.

We live in a near complete state of depravity.  I want to believe in the goodness of man.  But man's actions continually demonstrate the deviant behavior inherent in us all.  This doesn't refer solely to the massacre in Colorado, which serves as a wakeup call to Americans, but is a commonality many parts of the world.  How many thousands of people die daily from the evils of men?  Murder, rape, human trafficking, assaults, and any other violence that can be perpetrated upon humans occurs incessantly.  Any goodness within us is drastically outweighed by evil deeds.
Look no further than the crowd in the theater for another example of man's inherent problems.  A man brought his fiancee, 4-year old daughter, and 4-month old son to the midnight showing. When chaos ensued, he proceeded to jump off the balcony of the theater where seated and leave without his family.   What kind of person leaves a family and two small children in a chaotic situation?  (You may read about the story here.

The damage caused is more far-reaching than we realize.  The harm inflicted by Holmes does not stop with the dead and wounded.  The families, friends, and co-workers of victims will be affected by this tragedy.  A community has been robbed of its sense of security.  The family of James Holmes must attempt to confront the sad reality of the pain caused by their loved one. 

No one is safe.  Society understands that ordinary locations are often chosen by those who plan to inflict harm upon others.  That will not, and should not, change our daily habits.  Life will continue.  What should frighten us is the notion that anyone could be the next James Holmes.  He is well educated, as he had been working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience.  Holmes has been described as somewhat introverted, but had no history of violence.  One minor traffic ticket was his only blemish on an otherwise clean criminal record.  He grew up in fairly affluent family that neighbors spoke well of.  Holmes is the man next door.  He could be your neighbor, doctor, friend, store clerk, or any number of ordinary people you see every day.

This seemingly normal man had received a large number of deliveries over the past four months, allowing him to stockpile weapons and create a number of incendiary devices that he would use to rig his apartment to explode.  A 24 year old college student coldly planned and carried out a plot to kill numerous people.  And no one noticed.  Holmes does not fit the profile, and that is frightening.

We are not surprised by this behavior.  Outrage, grief, fear, anger -- all emotions espoused from various segments of American society.  But I've not yet heard one person say they are surprised by a massacre at movie premiere.  We have been dulled and desensitized to the point where Americans are not shocked at this behavior.  Violence is that pervasive and infectious, where ordinary men snap and believe harming others is the answer. 

We will not remember the lessons from this incident.  Most days, human beings go about their lives without some sense of
understanding.   We are too busy to think of the larger questions in the world.  We have tasks to complete.  Jobs to tend.  Family and friends whom we would like to see.  But inside all of us, I believe we all want to understand 'why'.  Some more than others. That daily grind is calling, though.  We will pay our bills and settle into the comfortable trappings of life.  And we will forget this tragedy.

Gun control advocates will be rabid in demanding a more stringent set of controls.  Parents will question the wisdom of taking young children to midnight showings of films.  But most Americans have no personal connection to this.  We might shake our heads and even pray about this situation, but ultimately time will strike this from our memories.  Our desire to understand will be overshadowed and drowned out by the fast paced lives we believe to be so important. 

Nothing will change, as we are lulled back to sleep until the next tragedy.  Descending one more step into a decadent hole.


  1. Hopefully, we learn from this and make it harder for Americans to get tactical gear like that used in this incident. That gear only has one use. Killing. No civillian needs fully automatic weapons or chemical grenades. Besides, like you said, there have been too many tragedies like this in recent years. Take a look at other countries and you'll see the U.S. has the highest "death by gun wound" rate in the world and the most lax gun laws.

  2. WRONG!

    I hate when people fire off information with fact checking first.