Friday, July 20, 2012

The Movie Massacre: How Does It Affect Us?

Police begin interviewing theater patrons outside the Century 16 early Friday morning. From LA Times online (photo by Karl Gehring / Denver Post / July 20, 2012)

The horrible tragedy at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado has provoked many reactions in us. This is a normal thing. When the world seems to go out of joint suddenly, right in front of us, we struggle to find some kind of comprehensible categories for what happened.

Of course, a flood of analysis ensued, on television, on the internet sites and the social media. This time we even found ourselves staring at videos people took on their iPhones while it was all going on, watching with a mixture of horror and morbid curiosity as shots go off and patrons flee the ordinary, everyday American multiplex theater.

We are strangely and variously provoked by images of blood and mayhem juxtaposed with the stuff and scenery of our regular, routine lives. We are shocked. In fact, however, so much of the "ordinary life" that we live in our society is saturated with a culture of violence, a culture in which power takes precedence over the human person, a culture in which even our aspirations to be humane are stained with blood.

We have grown accustomed and even desensitized to a way of life full of violence--a violence that would have shocked our ancestors. But we are not yet impervious to the jarring incongruity of violence when it throws off all its masks. In front of such events nearly everyone recognizes that there is something wrong. "Good" and "evil" are not simply relative terms assigned to things and situations in order to coordinate competing interests and desires. Suddenly we rediscover--even if only for a moment, somewhere deep in our guts--that fundamental human perception that "good" and "evil" have to do with reality, and that good is to be done and evil avoided.

The true position in the wake of these anonymous and gratuitous mass murders is one of solidarity, sorrow and prayer.

God have mercy on the souls of the victims,
give strength to their families,
and to the survivors
whose long path of healing has just begun.
God have mercy on the community,
and bring them together
to help and support one another.
God have mercy
on the daily victims and perpetrators of violence everywhere,
who are still very real even if we take no notice of them.
God have mercy on us,
and heal us of the violence inside us,
especially the violence by which we ignore and forget
the goodness, the fragility, and the needs
of our brothers and sisters,
our spouses,
our children,
our parents,
and every person who is given to us
in order that we might accomplish the good through love.