Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We All Need To Rise

If you are like me, you spent late Thursday night/early Friday morning in the dark with a hundred of like-minded individuals enjoying the end of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.  But, for a very unfortunate few in Aurora, Colorado, that time of excitement and joy was ended by a sociopath who felt the need to share his loneliness and anger with innocent movie-goers just like you and me. I am not going to name him.  You can Google that if you want to.  I don't feel compelled to give his name an ounce of my breath or to commit it to memory.  He will get more than enough of that kind of attention from the contemporary media anyway. 

People will ponder all the "whys" and "hows" of what he did enough without me taking the time to care...which I don't.  It is amazing how uncannily close to home a movie like "Se7en" came to articulating the realities that we face from the media when it comes to how people react whenever someone does something like this.  The only thing that matters is that he targeted innocent people like you and me...only removed by time and distance.  He had a choice with what he did that night and ended up taking the right of choice away from at least 70 people who were either killed or injured and affected the lives of countless others who were either in attendance or the friends and families of the people involved.

How this affects us, will be different for everyone.  For some, this will make us angry and want to lash out at the idiot who did this.  For others, it will make us want to "circle the horses" and keep our loved ones closer and be more cautious with where we go and where we let our loved ones go.  For me, I worry about all the peripheral things that will happen.

Already, where I work is clamping down on kids and enforcing clear or mesh backpacks at school (since an antisocial 24 year old killing people in a movie theatre directly translates into Kindergartners bringing weapons to school).  We also see people wanting new laws, when they should be focusing on enforcing the ones we already have. What I didn't expect on my part was the anxiety.  I took my kids to a movie this morning and I nearly had an anxiety attack.  The anxiety wasn't for me as much as worried about them and what I would do if someone did something like that in a movie where I was with them.  It scared me and it really got me thinking how we need to approach something like this. 

I am a trained mental health professional and I should be able to handle this.  It really got me thinking all afternoon why something like this affected me so much when most shootings like this have made me sad, but really didn't scare me.  I think the main difference is who was targeted.  These people were OUR people.  Nerds, geeks, whatever you want to call them, they were at their heart fans like you or me.  We usually aren't the target of stuff like this...it is usually the preps or jocks or any number of groups that people end up resenting in school...it is rarely, if ever "us". 

That said, what can we do to help work through the pain and fear that this has caused?  For one, we can give back.  Donations of money, time, even blood can help more than we can ever realize.  Even if it is something that isn't directly going to Colorado, doing it in honor of those people will still help others.  We can also talk to people.  The sad truth of the matter is, a lot of us can relate to feelings of loneliness and pulling away from others when we are hurt may be a natural response for us, but it is also not very healthy.  Find someone to talk to.  A friend, a parent, a spouse, co-worker, a counselor, a person of faith, or even calling a number to help work through your feelings can do a lot of good.  As trite as it may seem, talking to others helps.  It is far from a panacea, but it does a lot of good and help us get insight into how others have dealt with things and know that we truly not alone.

Finally, one thing that we need to do it go back to the movies.  We need to face any uneasiness that we feel and show ourselves that we are safe and one idiot with a gun can't stop us from celebrating what makes us who we are.  Because in the end it isn't the movies that are dangerous, it is a very select group of people who are and we need to pay attention to the people we know and love and make sure that no one gets to the point that this person did.  None of us live in a vacuum...love one another, lift up others as much as you can, and help those who may not want it, but need it the most.  Only then do we truly honor the dead and show other would-be "evil villains" that they will not make us live in fear.

If you want to help the people of Aurora, Colorado, here are some websites:
Giving First (This is an aggregator site giving a wealth of different organizations you can donate to.)

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, please use one of the following resources:
Mental Health America (Find mental health services in your area of the country.)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Child-Help USA - 1-800-422-4453 (A national abuse hot line)

These are just a few options that you have.  If you want to help, please do.  If you need help, please get it.  Thank you.

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