Explaining Madness to Innocence
I think that we all know what evil is. We have a sense of what's evil, and certainly killing innocent people is evil. We're less sure about what is good. There's sort of good, good enough, could be better - but absolute good is a little harder to define. ~Madeleine Albright
I've been wanting to address the movie theater massacre since the story unfolded. Just to recap, on July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight premier of Batman - Dark Knight Rises. A gunman, who was later identified as James Holmes, went inside to watch the movie, left half way through to get dressed in tactical clothing (including a bulletproof vest), then re-entered the theater through a back entrance, set off tear gas canisters and began shooting at the viewers. Eventually he killed 12 people and injured more than 58 innocent bystanders. He was arrested shortly after committing the atrocity, but never gave an explanation for his outburst.
First and foremost, my heart bleeds for those who were unfortunately involved in the shooting. My thoughts and prayers goes out those family members who were forced to deal with this disaster. May the victims rest-in-peace.
It happened late at night, so by the next morning the story was out and everyone was trying to get their minds wrapped around the incidence. Because this is breaking news, I have push notifications on my phone coming from Fox News. After work on Friday, I picked Kyle up at his friends house, where he was playing all day. As we were on our way home, my phone dinged and he picked it up to check the alert. He checks my text messages and anytime the phone 'dings' to help me out when I'm driving. Plus I think he likes to stay current on news and he knows about the alerts set on my phone. The 'Breaking News' title said "Movie Theater Massacre Conference". Kyle read it out loud and said gave a puzzled look, just as I was mumbling to myself, "What a shame and those poor innocent people. They didn't even have a chance to defend themselves."
Kyle asked me what happened, since he obviously didn't see the news and had no idea, I tried to explain as best I could from what I knew. While I was describing the actions of the gunman, I was really nervous over Kyle's reaction. I didn't want him to become scared of going to the movies. As I was going through the story, Kyle just sat there taking it in. Usually he starts off with ten thousand questions, but not this time. He just listened and didn't comment until after I said, "It's such a shame, that's not right. Those poor people just wanted to enjoy a movie. What now? Do I have to go to the movie theater packing?" Kyle said, "Packing?" I smiled and replied, "With a gun to protect myself." Kyle said, "Maybe" and I quickly debunked his thought with more details over the shooting. I said, "Except the people in the theater thought it was a prank or part of the movie 'cause it happened right in the middle of an action scene. The killer set off smoke canisters and no one understood or knew what was going on. Not to mention the gunman was wearing a bulletproof vest. Plus a stray bullet went through the wall of the movie theater and shot someone in the adjacent theater. He was targeting those trying to exit."
Still nervous over Kyle's real reaction and trying to not to omit the violent details, he finally said, "Ya Aunt Heather they didn't know." He seemed to understand the story, well at least as much as any one of us did, which wasn't much. I told him what I heard that the movie theaters are going to employ new rules and guidelines for letting people in the theaters. I also commented on the restriction of props and costumes for those who get dressed up in support of a blockbuster. It's a shame one person had to ruin everyone's entertainment for no reason.
Keeping the conversation going, I told Kyle about the lone assassin's apartment. Later on, the police found out that Holmes actually booby trapped his apartment with bombs to go off in case the police would decide to storm his home. What the heck? Trying to shorten the lives of those who are protecting innocent people? As I continued on while Kyle listened very attentively, I became very enraged just thinking that the killer didn't even know his victims and they didn't know him.
Finally Kyle asked about the location of the shooting to confirm it wasn't local. At one point, I realized I never told Kyle what movie was playing. We both had been talking about Batman - Dark Knight Rises, just like the rest of the world, since they started shooting the movie in Pittsburgh and all the way leading up to the release. When I told him it was Batman, Kyle sat there really quiet. I interrupted his thoughts by saying, "I still want to see the movie, I heard it's really good. Plus it was made in our backyard." Kyle just nodded his head in agreement.
Trying to explain the unexplainable to a ten year old is not easy. I want to protect his mind, but I also want him to have a sense of reality and know the news ar0und him. At this point, I couldn't help my self and did just as the news did, comparing the Columbine High School massacre to this one. Naturally, the comparison was going to happen because of the close proximity of locations, and the amount of loss. The Columbine High School massacre happened on April 20, 1999. When I was telling Kyle about this dent in history, I really couldn't remember when it happened, but I could tell you how I felt when I saw the news that day. Giving him a very brief explanation, he didn't have much to say.
While I was on the topic, I wanted to discuss the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, but at that moment, there was enough bloodshed for one conversation. I thought about the shooting, but chose to stop and change gears. I am aware how blessed I am blessed to be able to change my thoughts and the conversation as I wanted, unlike those poor victims in Colorado. They never had a choice.
Not to say that these types of tragedies are good, not at all, but I always feel that there's some good that comes out of them. After the dust has settled and the victims are getting used to their new adjusted lives, the hero stories seem to make their way to the headlines, rightfully. Hearing stories of bravery and the desire to survive and help our fellow neighbor is very inspirational. It goes back to my belief, that there is more good in the world than not. Give people a chance to shine and do the right thing, especially in the face of evil, they will choose to do good and be selfless every time. May God bless all the friends and families of the victims and give them strength to live on.