We sit here on a Friday morning, our televisions and computers and the people on the other end telling of yet another instance of the world, the universe, rearing up and reminding us that, yes, sometimes ours is a terrifying and confusing existence.
The numbers are still coming in. The numbers will change over the next several hours, perhaps even the next few days. The story is being put together in that piecemeal cable news fashion, information being spit out as fast as it can be taken in, no mind paid to fact-checking, not now, not when the priority on this day is to get on the air first. This hardly matters; we all know how it works, and in a matter of days things will have slowed down and the facts will set themselves, like concrete.
The facts now, in the moment, are these: tragedy. Too many dead, too many hurt. Another shooting, senseless at the moment, likely to remain senseless when “explained”. A crowded room and a madman with guns. And it happens at a midnight screening of a highly anticipated film, a superhero film. Victims lined up, ducks in a row, confused and disoriented.
Chaos and horror.
If the usual pattern holds true in the coming days, here’s what will happen: some among us will lose sight of what’s important. Some among us will lose sight of twelve dead, thirty-eight hurt, numbers subject to change. Some will begin looking at the film being screened as they search for motivation: The Dark Knight Rises, the final part of a trilogy that presents a society in chaos, a civilization in decay. They will draw parallels between the gunman, described by eyewitnesses as clad in a bulletproof best and gas mask, already being reported on CNN as wearing a “costume”, and the film’s central villain, Bane. Sanctions against midnight screenings may be called for. Comic books may come under fire, much like video games came under fire after another horrid Colorado shooting thirteen years ago. A medium of artistic expression may well be damned in the public dialogue, pointed out as a motivator for the gunman, life purposely imitating art.
And those doing the pointing will have forgotten, or at least pushed aside: twelve dead, thirty-eight hurt, numbers subject to change.
Today is not about gun control, it is not about justice, and it is certainly not about comic books. It is about loss, tragic loss, senseless loss. The dialogue and investigation that follows may forget: evil needs no motivation. Evil can exist in a vacuum. When a good man does bad things we can ask ourselves, “Why?” When evil men do evil things, asking “Why?” is a fool’s journey.
We know this. So if and when the sentinels come and point their fingers, again, and blame the expression of art for the actions of an evil man, we will not blink. We will not shout back. We understand that some will always need to point a finger, some will always need to lay the blame as far and wide as they can throw it, even if their aim is not true. We will not get angry. We will not shout back. We will shoulder the blame that some need to throw, that some need to dish out so they can heal in their own way.
We will shoulder it, because we can take it.
We will shoulder it, because we know the truth.
We will shoulder it, because it will pass.
We will shoulder it, because we know the blame is not really important.
What’s important is this: twelve dead. Thirty-eight hurt. For no reason at all.
Editor’s note: Please take a moment of silence for the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.