I won’t avoid the horrible events at the movie theater in Colorado last week. There are so many people suffering in the face of terrific violence. It was a terrible, terrifying event that is hard but not impossible to explain. The most important thing we need to do right now is to be present in our own lives and emotions. Fear can drive us away from paying any attention to violence that we have not directly suffered. Fear can also paralyze us into not seeing the ways in which we can reasonably expect to be safe. It is difficult balancing act that has to be done.
Violent events can impact all of us. People feel lots of different feelings – threatened, sad, overwhelmed, hopeless, angry- by the fact that horrific violence has happened somewhere else. I believe in acknowledging those feelings and making sense of our own reaction. Doing that allows us to be present for these victims. I value being able to say we see you and feel compassion, sympathy, sorrow, and grief. I also believe in recognizing when I am safe and stronger than a grieving victim so that I can take steps to reduce the violence and threats in the world.
Massacres are very rare in the United States of America. Most of the violence that threatens us is smaller and everyday. It doesn’t equally threaten us. There are communities where witnessing violent deaths is common. There are homes where threats and violence happen as many days as they do not. When we become accustomed to violence, when it is not horrific and terrible, when we ignore it, we are in danger. When we do not acknowledge our privilege and safety, we are also in danger because we going to miss the opportunities that that safety gives us to promote compassion, empathy, caring behavior.
The New Times today published stories about the victims, their families, and their feelings. Here is the link. The website allows some browsing for free with a registration.