Today, for the third time in my memory, citizens of my beautiful home state of Colorado were showered with gunfire. The first, at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, has all but been forgotten in the wake of Columbine and now today’s shooting.
From the moment I read the story, the speculating and finger-pointing began. The right pointed at the left and the left pointed at the right. He had to be politically motivated, people claimed. He was a Tea Party Dittohead, said the left. He was an Occupy member, said the right.
Sometimes, when you spend much of your life reading and dissecting politics, it’s difficult to remember that not everything is politically motivated. As the truth reveals itself, I suspect that we will find that he wasn’t politically motivated at all. James Holmes was a crazy man. He might have been a Batman-obsessed crazy man, but he was without a doubt, insane. Even his mother didn’t seem to be horribly surprised as she reportedly said, “you have the right person.” I can’t help but wonder how many times she sought help for her troubled son.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that the tragedy won’t have political ramifications, and it should. I hope there’s a time that we’ll be able to have an informed discussion about how our country shoves mental illness under the rug with medication, if someone is lucky enough to have medication. I hope there’s a time that we’ll be able to have an informed discussion about guns, but I suspect that we’ll have neither of those discussions. We’ll simply have more finger-pointing.
Perhaps most sad to me is my own reaction. After the Chuck E. Cheese shooting and the Columbine shooting, I was raw for days. My heart felt like it had been ripped out of my chest. Today, I feel numb. These things are far too common these days. In fact, I was shocked to learn that there are 20 mass shootings in the US a year. Most have far fewer casualties, but are we and our media so jaded that this statistic barely deserves coverage, barely deserves outrage? Barely deserves the questions, “why,” and “what can we do to prevent them?”
Not too long ago, science discovered that genius and madness carry the same gene, which coincidentally, Holmes might have studied in his neuroscience doctoral program. Of course, not all geniuses are mad and very few are violent and of course, not all mad people are genius, but it is food for thought.
In the meantime, I will take this opportunity to mourn and hope that the friend of my friend who is in intensive care because of this monster pulls through, but I won’t jump to conclusions. The only individual to blame, according to what we know now, is Holmes. However, if anything good can come of senseless tragedy, it’s self-reflection. It’s time for a more civilized discourse not for finger-pointing.