By Guest Writer Nikki Britain
“But what if someone shoots you?”
Certainly not the response I expected when I asked my oldest son if he would like to go see the new Ice Age film with me and his younger brothers this weekend.
It left me struggling for a reassuring answer and provided a sad commentary on how violence trickles down to affect even the youngest and most innocent among us.
I, like my fellow Coloradans and most of America, have watched the news coverage unfold these last 36 hours. I have cried and turned away at some of the images and interviews. I have prayed for the families and tossed armfuls of gratitude into the universe that my own children are safe. I have flashed back to the dark days of spilled blood at Columbine, when our beautiful state was first in the spotlight of the world’s voyeuristic stage.
Untreated mental illness and unrecognized psychopathy are the unsightly frayed threads in the quilt of our society. Crazy-As-Fuck does not have a skin tone, a political affiliation, a specific gender, a sexual orientation, or a spiritual leaning. And playing the “blame game” does nothing more than fill segments of newscasts with sound bites from pundits and experts alike; all of whom can speak in bumper sticker sentences until they are blue in the face without having an answer to the question which tickles at the back of our collective psyches: “Why?”
The miserable truth of a horrific tragedy such as this movie theater massacre is simple: Sickness exists. It always has and it always will. And if one is intent on harming themselves or others nothing – no regulation, no law, no poster platitude, no potential earthly punishment or eternal hell bound stay – will stop that maniacal determination and its wicked outcome.
And as for the “Why?” of it?
Sometimes the best and most honest answer is: “I don’t know.”
That is the answer I have given my three boys. As much as I would love to promise each of them that I am the kind of SuperMama who will keep them safe from harm forever, the harsh reality is I cannot. Comic book characters cannot save us. That we must do for ourselves. The cape we must don is one of compassion. Of our senses, perhaps the most important should be listening; not with the intent to respond or influence but rather to simply understand, even if we disagree. We must each perhaps stock our own bat caves with hope and love.
Is it really any wonder that in a society where online arguments degenerate into vicious name-calling or altercations over something as simple as a parking spot deteriorate into threats of physical harm that we also see the kind of violence such as that perpetrated by a madman in Theater Number Nine? When it has become more increasingly acceptable to say, “Fuck you and Fuck off.” we, each of us, must look at our own interactions with our fellow human beings and ask, “Have I been kind?”
Or have I been so self-assured in the justness of my belief structure that I’ve hurt others with my righteousness?
I know I am guilty. But putting down the magnifying glass with which I study others’ faults and looking into the mirror to acknowledge my own is a brave first step. I will be a better person for it. And hopefully those with whom I interact will be better for it as well.
As for my boys, Ice Age can wait. I will allow each of the three to process in their own way a horrifying event which has left deep fissure lines in the emotional foundation of our home state. I will continue to say “I love you.” I will offer as many big Mama hugs as they can stand. I will reassure them if I am able. I will be patient. And I will hope for a better tomorrow; for a day when we no longer need worry about our children shooting one another.