When terrible things like the Aurora Colorado shooting happen I always hold my breath for the political and media aftermath. As terrible as it is, many in our culture see events such as these as an opportunity to push their agenda, or to boost ratings through fear mongering, or fear suppression. If I hear one more conversation about gun control, or the statistics of being shot while in a movie theater, or the best way to protect yourself and loved ones if a crazed gunman should enter your movie theater, or appropriate steps in better building security…well, if I hear anymore, I feel like I’m going to puke. These discussions are opportunistic, trite, and disrespectful toward those who lost so much in a matter of moments.
Those who take a decidedly mathematical approach to shootings like the one in Aurora, would like us to take comfort in the “fact” that this is an extremely rare occurrence and that everyone should feel free and safe to frequent public gatherings such as the screening of a movie. Tell the victims of this shooting how rare it is…see if that comforts them.
I’m not going to go in to the whole gun control legislation thing for fear that someone will hear me giving a political position. I will say this one thing, I know someone who has been stocking up on ammunition for quite sometime and he bought it all through the mail…from Russia, no questions asked. There isn’t a bit of Federal legislation that would curtail such a practice. But really, the legislation conversation misses the mark as well.
The personal protection crowd stands to be heard at times such as these because they sell “expertise” and techniques that yield more safety. Better techniques sell in this country, so high-profile shootings are a great opportunity for these individuals to display their wares and put our minds at ease.
And then we also hear from the social science and mental health crowd. Maybe if James Holmes had been breast-fed longer, or if he had more loving friends, or if he had an available father figure, maybe then he wouldn’t have gone off the deep end. As someone with a bit of mental health training, I will say that considering social and psychological history is helpful in diagnosing mentally ill people, but we’re not talking about a super exact science that’s fool proof…if there is such a thing as “exact” science. Despite our best efforts, some times the unexpected happens, something far more extreme that we could ever anticipate and there isn’t a diagnostic tool out there to prepare us for it.
I lay out the above sampling of perspectives in contrast to the deeper truth that makes itself known in events such as the Aurora shooting. My friends, evil is real. Evil is destructive and driven by forces that use logic and strategy, but it will not be deterred in its entirety by logic and strategy. Evil and the Evil One sees people like James Holmes and sets out on a campaign of destruction that will destroy the perpetrator of the committed crimes, along with many victims. Evil will not stop upon the completion of “better” legislation, better profiling, or better public safety instruction.
None of us are truly “safe” but to believe that, you have to abandon our cultural idol of safety and place your life firmly in the loving hands of someone bigger than yourself. I suppose I’m not surprised when a secular culture avoids the discussion of evil in times like these, because then you must have a whole set of other difficult conversations that, in my opinion, lead to the abandoning of cultural hubris. At such a point we have to say that ultimately we’re only chasing safety while it remains out of our reach.