The news of the horrific attack in Aurora, Colorado this week really made me think about the world around me in a fresh way. It wasn’t new, just fresh, just brought to the surface of my mind.
I’ve always thought that our culture is violent and growing more so all the time. I think it goes unnoticed, under the radar. We expect it, we don’t really interact with it. We turn a blind eye to it. We are just “used” to it. Desensitized. As a Christian and a parent, this deeply concerns me and how I’ll introduce and protect myself and my children from the violence our culture just accepts, me included.
An ABC news story I read said, “The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.” “Witnesses in the movie theater said they saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said. At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told “Good Afternoon America.”
It was so disturbing to hear people interviewed saying that they didn’t engage with what was happening right away. They thought it was part of the show. They sat there, just watching this violence happening in real life completely unaware it was real. Then, as they finally realized what was going on, they all tried to get away. Patrons said that there was an eery silence in between shots. No one spoke. The gunman never said anything. The people never said anything. It was just silence filled with gunshots and screams in between.
I think it is interesting that no one tried to take this guy out, no one said “STOP IT!” or spoke to him or called him out. Especially in the light of post-911 America, where it seemed to me that people did not want to be attacked and had a new-found sense of protecting one another. Not so here though. People had to be filled with insurmountable fear and this man was clearly deranged. He was aiming. He was going slowly. People tried to help those who were wounded and then left them because their own fear was so great. The news reports today are saying that many of the injuries incurred were from the people trying to escape hurting one another, trampling each other.
I am disturbed by all this and to the point that I question what I watch. Am I encouraging this? Am I feeding into this culture of violence? I know movies are false and just stories, but they have become so violent and it is clearly seeping into real life like an oozing sludge.
I remember when I first saw the movie “Man on Fire”. I left the theater DEEPLY disturbed. I remember being completely shaken by the emotions I was feeling and the depths of the violence I had just watched. I told my husband, “that was the most violent movie I have ever watched”. And I say violent with intent on violence. I mean war movies aside, this is murderous.
I admit that I like action movies. Not the action or the violence itself, but I like seeing people rescued. I like knowing that in dark times there is light. I need to know in my soul that there is light. But the dark times keep getting darker and story is becoming reality.
How do we respond to this as a culture? Do we just sit back and write on our blogs about how horrible this is and keep on watching these movies? Or do we start thinking about the violence we are already desensitized to? Do we start questioning what we put before ourselves and our families? Can we take a stand? Can we call it murderous?
The thing that tugs at me the most, is that I could have been there. In fact, I could have been there with my baby on a date with my husband. One such family was. A little baby, about the age of my baby daughter, was at this showing guys. The baby is ok by the way. But still, this could have happened to any of us.
This shakes me up. I’m not sure how to respond frankly. I want to run away like those people in the theater. But realistically, how long will the fear and the shock that I feel keep me from the violence?
I have a feeling females will feel much differently about this than males. Boycotting a Batman movie will lead to many a heated discussion between husbands and wives. I don’t think that’s sexist and I hope it isn’t taken as such. I just think this will be an interesting point of contention in my home and many others as we struggle as men and women to answer the question we all should be asking ourselves: how will we choose to respond in the face of such horror? It will be a different answer by gender I imagine.
I hope I’m not the only person who is thinking afresh about such things. How are you responding?