It has been several days now since the shooting took place at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado. As someone who has attended many sold-out midnight premieres of the latest sci-fi blockbuster, I found what happened at that theatre deeply chilling. I'm sure we are familiar with all the major details. I'm also sure that (if you're anything like me) you can't stomach one more commentary on how such a tragedy could happen or how we can prevent them happening once again.
I don't feel there's much I can say which would make any meaningful contribution the ongoing discussion. As I browsed through YouTube this weekend looking up information on the shooting, I did come across one eye witness statement that particularly struck me:
This witness makes the point that as much as we are inundated with images of violence and bloodshed, nothing can prepare us for a situation in which we are confronted with such an event first-hand. He basically says that this even was REAL in a way he can barely describe. We can even see him in the video struggling to find words for what he encountered. These comments on the incomprehensible REALITY of the shooting resonates with the comments made by so many witnesses that the audience assumed the intruder was a prank or a stunt for the film, until real bullets began to fly.
The fact is we in the developed world by and large live superficial lives, often very divorced from *reality.* Particularly from the reality of death. How often do most of us go to a butcher's to buy our meat and actually see the hard evidence that our pork chops came from a once living, breathing animal? While it is easy for us to make a monetary contribution to those less fortunate than ourselves, how many of us have actually *engaged* with the most marginalized members of our own city? As we ponder the reality of death in light of this tragedy, it is, furthermore, worth noting how less and less common it is to see a funeral with a casket or even an urn these days. We cannot deny that we are sheltered (often wilfully sheltered) from the more unsavoury realities of the world.
I don't want to belabour this point, but I do feel it is one which merits some reflection. Maybe the best response to such an event as what happened in Colorado is to be thankful for these sheltered lives we have been given. But in that thankfulness, perhaps we are called to be even more aware of others who do not enjoy such privilege and to consider how we can best respond to the true REALITY of suffering both around the world and in our own backyard.