Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Heroes

One minute your life is one way. The next minute it is something entirely different. Completely unrecognizable. Eternally changed. The time between those minutes is forever marked as the time when the universe tilted and irrevocably divided life into "before" and "after."

For the countless victims of the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and their families, last Thursday night was one of those times.

As most of us on the east coast slept, a gunman walked into Theater 9 of Century Aurora 16, opened a canister of gas and started to shoot. A few hours later we awoke to scenes of horror. Tales of lives lost and those still fighting to survive.

Words fail. And we struggle to understand. 

Our minds and hearts send tears, prayers, support and love to the families of the injured and the dead. To those broken by unimaginable violence. We offer whatever assistance we can. We wonder how we ourselves will feel the next time we sit quietly in a darkened theater.

In the days and weeks to come there will certainly be discussions and there will be debates. Over what is an appropriate age to take a child to a midnight screening. Over whether stricter gun-control laws could have stopped a killer. Over whether violent movies beget violence in life. Over whether a comic book character is to blame. And some of these debates may be worth having. Some may not be. 

And there will be anger. Anger at a killer who was not a boy and not quite a man. Anger at parents who recognized evil but did nothing to stop its forward motion. And some of this anger may be justified. Some may not be.

But today. Today I am not debating, and today I am not angry. Today I am not sad. Today I am not thinking about violence and tragedy and lives taken long before their time. There will be plenty of other days for that. But not today.

Today, on this Tuesday, I am thinking of heroes. I am thinking about stories of courage and bravery that are rising from the ashes of this senseless tragedy.

I am thinking of Nick Yowler and Matt McQuinn who, when gunshots rang out, pulled Nick's younger sister down on the ground and shielded her with their own bodies to keep her safe. I am thinking about Stephanie Davies, who stayed with a wounded friend, applying first aid as the gunman continued to shoot. I am thinking about Jarrell Brooks, who ushered a young mother and her two children to an exit; saving three people he had not known before the gunshots began.

Today, I am thinking of heroes. The people who represent the very best of who we are and what we could be.

Today, I am thinking of heroes. And with those heroes, the promise of brighter days ahead.

13 comments:

  1. Such a tragedy and so many conflicting emotions about the whole thing.

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  2. What a great post. And those heroes are people we should think about.

    What really made me think about you post is where you write

    "...there will be debates. Over what is an appropriate age to take a child to a midnight screening. Over whether stricter gun-control laws could have stopped a killer. Over whether violent movies beget violence in life. Over whether a comic book character is to blame"

    It makes me sad, because it takes the focus away from the shooter, who really is the one to blame. He knew damn well what he was doing.
    So hopefully parents who take their young children to a midnight showing won't get crucified, because it's up to them if they choose to do that... Know what I mean?

    Great post!

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    1. I completely agree with you here. This was not the work of a crazy person affected by the movies he saw and the comic books he read. This was a calculated attack, intended to cause terror and pain. And the way that we defy him is by removing him from the spotlight. By talking about the heroes, by returning to movie theaters, and by not being afraid.

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  3. I applaud you for writing about it. I have not been able to do so, because I still feel like I can't fully wrap my head around it. It is all just too horrible to conceive. But I agree with you, I choose to focus on the positive actions of the heroes involved.

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    1. It really is too horrible to conceive, and I'm still not sure that I can. But for me, to write about it is to acknowledge it. To try, no matter how difficult it is, to frame it in a way that gets me to a place of understanding and acceptance. Thanks so much.

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  4. I hope the pictures of the heroes overshadow the shooter's pictures. Our heroes and victims need the recognition while we place this shooter in a dark place to be forgotten. Beautifully written.

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  5. wonderful tribute to the heroes.

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  6. This is a great post, Samantha. It makes us stop and think and reflect on the good rather than keep pushing blames and focusing on the negative.

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    1. Thank you Jamie. I think that the only way to start making sense of this and to stop feeling helpless is to focus on the good. Blame and negativity are not going to get us to a place of understanding. Anger and debate are inevitable, but I hope that by focusing on the heroes we can stay in a place of unity, rather than divisiveness.

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  7. Very impressive. Right after an event like this, I feel flooded by all the details and it's hard to get something down that feels original. You did it. I look forward to reading more of you posts.
    Leslie (can I ask you a question?)

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    1. Thank you so much Leslie. This post has been inside my head since I woke up last Friday morning, but it took a few days for me to be able to make enough sense of what happened to write about it. I, too, felt flooded by all the details. Writing this really helped me cut through all the sadness and disbelief and find a bit of light amidst the darkness. Looking forward to heading over to your blog to read some of your writing as well.

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