When bad things happen in public places

When bad things happen in public places

As much as of an entertainment junkie as I am, movie theaters have never been one of my go-to places. Weird, right? And, as always, I have a laundry list of reasons why, from the larger-than-life screen that give me eye strain to the cushiony, comfortable seats that make me sleepy.

Unfortunately, now I’m adding another reason to that list…

Waking up to the news of a monster that would be so cowardice as to open random fire in a frickin’ movie theater on innocent people…including children (children?!) is among one of the most unnerving national tragedies I’ve ever grappled with. Definitely among my top ten.

I think it’s because I don’t just feel horrified and sad, I feel pain as I read, watch and hear the different accounts of what happened and learn more details about the victims.

And it’s not just emotional pain that I’m dealing with. It’s like, actual physical pain… Some sort of psychosomatic mix of queasiness tangled up in a ball of nerves and fear. I think it’s because my mind is trying to comprehend the idea that something as carefree and normal as sitting in a movie theater can turn deadly.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at Obama State of the Union

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 shooting at a Tucson, Ariz. grocery store that killed 17 people. (Photo by Associated Press)

On one hand, it’s not like this violence in public places is anything new. Sadly, we can all recall other massacres in public places like schools, colleges, workplaces, even the grocery store.

And when it happens, it’s like an instant reminder of how vulnerable we actually are and all the other cliches that folks throw around during these times: nowhere is safe, life is short, don’t take anything for granted, etc. But knowing all of that doesn’t make the weight of sadness and pain any lighter when such a tragedy strikes again, certainly not for the families and friends of the victims, much less the rest of us.

For the rest of the day and the coming weeks, probably even months, we’ll watch this thing get dissected and spun a thousand different ways. Some folks are already making it a political issue. Others are playing the victim-blaming game , i.e. “Why would a parent have a 3-month-old at the movies at midnight?” What the hell does that have to do with this jerk coming up into a movie theater pumping bullets into innocent folks? Let’s push ‘pause’ on the judgmental b.s., y’all. As far as I’m concerned, this is not the time for finger-pointing at anyone but the murderer himself.)

But I hope that in all of this, the biggest spotlight goes to those 71 innocent victims, including the 12 who died, the unaccounted for and all of their families. And while I pray for them, I’ll also pray that this doesn’t transform the rest of us into a society that lives in fear. Better yet, I pray it doesn’t transform ME into a person who lives in fear. Because when that happens, nobody wins.

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