My heart breaks and my prayers go out to the friends and family of all those involved in the Aurora, Colorado shooting. As their lives were being turned upside down, my twenty-something sons were eagerly anticipating and preparing for opening night of Dark Night Rises here in North Carolina. They purchased tickets well in advance at the local iMax theater, to insure that they would have a seat and talked excitedly about the positive reviews they were hearing. I am a parent of young adults not dissimilar to those on both ends of the weapons unleashed early Friday morning.
We are all horrified, perplexed, and stumbling to find answers, to understand how this could have occurred and why, just as we have been previous similar situations: Columbine, Virgina Tech, UNC, only to name a few of the most notable. It is terrorism at its very root and yet it is not terrorism being perpetrated by individuals born on foreign soil. These terrorists are our sons, our children, whom we have raised in this country, in our schools, churches, and communities.
The first place we often look for answers is to the family of origin. We want to understand how a young man of twenty four could do such a thing. Was their abuse in the home, neglect, trauma, a history of mental illness? But if we were to find such a history would this really explain such a heinous act? How many others have suffered such things and did not pick up an arsenal of weapons and unleash them on their unsuspecting peers.
There is no easy answer to this type of terrorism, but it is time we do the hard work and the research it takes to dig deeper into what may be at the root of what appears to be a devastating new trend. In the meantime, as fear and uncertainty grow stronger every day in our nation’s collective psyche we must resist the temptation to barricade ourselves into smaller and smaller lives. Just as we fought back against despair after 9/11, so too must we fight back again and again against fear and distrust when the violence is unleashed by our own. We must never allow ourselves to live in a police state or a police mind. Freedom always comes with a price, sometimes in ways we do not expect.
We must choose hope. We must choose faith. We must put one foot in front of the other, not blindly, but boldly and continue on, living in the knowledge that we will always fight evil with good, despair with hope, fear with knowledge, anger with love. We must grieve our loss of innocence but not lose the wisdom we have gained in the process.