July 21, 2012

This time, the "other" is us

The news out of Aurora, Colorado continues to shock. To appall. 

Reading of the shooting in the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises is like reading a screenplay for a mystery. There's a smoke bomb. Multiple semi-automatic weapons. Booby traps in the suspect's car and apartment. No apparent motive.

And the fact that the shooting took place in a movie so laden with guns and violence that people in adjacent theaters first thought that's all they heard? That's the icing on the cake, no? The "meta," so to speak.

But the thing is, this is real.

The internet's full of talk about this tragedy. Soon the angry posts will start, both for and against stricter gun control laws.

Me? I'm for them, those stricter gun control laws.

But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter.  Call me a fatalist, but I think no matter how tight gun laws get, crazy people will still find a way to get them.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today.

I'm here to talk about the fact that, for me, this shooting hit home. It struck a nerve in me that hasn't been struck since 9/11, when I could simply stand outside my apartment on a clear afternoon and see the smoke rising from the suddenly absent towers.

Reading about Aurora yesterday brought me to tears. I squeezed my child so hard it must have hurt her.

I thought about it, for a while. I thought about how rarely a day goes by that there's not a tragedy of similar proportions somewhere in the world.

Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan. There are shootings every day there. People die like this every day there.

And even similar tragedies in our own country haven't set me off the way Aurora did. I was sad to read about Gabrielle Giffords, and I mourned the loss of innocent children with the rest of our country. But I didn't quite feel my heart break the way I did yesterday.

And I think it's because almost every time an event like this occurs, it's easy to think, "Oh, it happened to those other people. Those people who live in an unsafe country. Or those people who frequent weekend political events. Those people who take the bus or ride the train or do any number of other things I don't do. They are the others. And I'm sorry bad things happened, but they are still the others. They are not me. Not my husband. Not my daughter."

But this time? This time, the others are us. They're me. They're Charles. Those kids? They could be Zoe. 

Because these people? They were just watching a movie. A movie, in fact, that I'd have gone to see at midnight Thursday myself if we didn't have a four year old who can't stay home alone. A movie we still plan to see tomorrow.

This time, that could have been me, or Charles, or any of my friends.

This time, the others are us.

And for me, that means I'll watch the news a little more closely for a while. I'll mourn a little more deeply for a while. I'll hug Zoe and Charles and tell them I love them.

Because when the others are us, life gets a little more real for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment