Horror At Century 16

The world is still reeling from the tragic events that took place early Friday morning in Aurora, Colorado. A scene you would only expect to find in a movie made its way into real life when a lone gunman, who doesn’t deserve to be named, walked into the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the town’s Century 16 theater and began firing shots into the audience. In the end, twelve people lost their lives and dozens were injured; I’ve seen counts as high as 70.

I discovered the story around 5:30 a.m. on Friday and my heart fell into my stomach. I saw the news on Facebook, and suddenly all the other status updates became hollow. Suddenly, I didn’t care what anyone else was doing.

What happened the rest of the day has had a profound effect on me. I learned some things, was reminded of some things, and I hope they remain with me for the future.

Our society is desensitized, almost to the point of indifference.

When I arrived to work at 6 a.m. people were talking about the shooting and how awful it was. By 10 a.m. the jokes started coming in. As we sat around the break table watching the news, we talked about the suspect in custody and a coworker said something like, “Hey. You’re going to the movies tonight, aren’t you? You better stop and get a bullet proof vest.”

I get it. I have made stupid jokes like that in the past, but it just made my head hurt. We get teary-eyed watching Sara McLachlan try to save the battered animals, but when twelve human beings are wiped off the map we have room for jokes? What the heck is wrong with us?

The answer: death is normal. Murder is an everyday occurrence. There are about 8,000 crime-based shows on television where killing is commonplace.

The ten o’clock news is little more than a death watch with occasional weather reports. We are so used to observing suffering that it doesn’t register as tragic anymore. We hear that twelve people were killed, and we aren’t happy about it, but quickly we just shake our heads and get back to business.

We tend to see twelve people simply as a group, ignoring that a group is made of individuals, individuals with parents and siblings, friends and spouses. Right now there is a mother that will never be able to hold her child again. A loving spouse just became a lonely widow.

We will move on from this story in a few weeks. The media will get back to tracking Lindsay Lohan blackouts and discussing which shade of orange Snooki happens to be that particular week, but these people’s lives will never be the same.

When The Dark Knight Rises comes out on DVD I will be excited to complete my collection. For the victims of this tragedy, the release will just be another reminder of pain and loss.

This isn’t about laws or politics.

Already, on both sides of the political spectrum, I have heard remarks about what this means for our nation.

“This is a perfect example of why we need more gun control,” or “If the victims were allowed to carry weapons they could have protected themselves, but Obama is snatching up our guns.”

Are you kidding me? This is not about politics, this is about the human condition. If guns were completely illegal, no carry permits, no exceptions, evil people would still find a way to access them. Weapons are illegal in prisons, yet almost every day someone is stabbed behind bars.

How is this possible? Government conspiracy? Influence from the outside? No. It’s simple. Evil always finds a way.

That’s because you can’t regulate the human heart.

No law, no matter how strictly enforced, can change the state of a person’s heart. Sin has broken every aspect of life; the Bible articulates this well. This is no time to lobby political views. Twelve people will be placed in the ground this week, and others are suffering in the hospital.

The last thing they need is a speech or a left wing/right wing opinion. It’s time to push pause on the agendas and focus on compassion.

We are not promised tomorrow.

When I sat in a theater later that night I couldn’t help but stare at the exit doors several times throughout the film. Never before had I felt vulnerable at the movies. The theater has always been the place to go to escape from reality, to see a horror film, not be part of one.

Even last night I laid in bed thinking about how easily someone could walk into my house and destroy my family. It made me fearful, angry that the actions of a lunatic could do so much damage in just seconds.

It reminded me once again that we aren’t promised tomorrow. Our next breath is not guaranteed.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
(James 4:13-14 ESV)

I want to use the time I have to care about what matters, to enjoy my limited stay with family and friends. I don’t ever want to forget about the people of Aurora, Colorado. I hope you don’t either. They need our thoughts, and more importantly our prayers.

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