I felt compelled to write down some thoughts about last night’s tragedy in Colorado at the showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
I mean, I knew I was going to write about the movie today anyway, but the story has changed somewhat.
I find myself unsettled by the events that occurred in that theater in Colorado last night, even though these people are not connected to me in any way. Why? Because they are God’s children.
One of God’s children made a choice to walk into a room crowded with God’s children and chose to hurt them. The hurt is wide spread, though, not just from one person to another, but from one person to many random people and, because of that, their friends and family. Each choice he made, and each person he hurt, has consequences that spread out like ripples in a pond. He has filled people with pain and with fear.
The story here is not the venue he chose, although that has been brought up in the coverage I’ve read. The story here is not that he may have been copying this story or that story, although that has been brought up in the coverage I’ve read. The story here is not that he was “inspired” by Rush Limbaugh’s weak argument about a liberal agenda, although that (and other connections to political ties) has been brought up in the coverage I’ve read. The story here is not that young children were in a late movie, although that has been brought up in the coverage I’ve read.
No, the story here is that people’s lives have been destroyed. Because of the choice of one man.
If there is a tenuous connection between the subject matter of the movie and the actions of the man, it’s this: times like this, we cry out for justice.
News like this comes out, and no matter who we are or what we believe, we see this for the horrible, terrible act of depravity that it is.
We denounce it. We grieve it.
Its evil unsettles us. Its randomness terrifies us. Its effects touch us.
This is why we are attracted to stories about heroes who do the right thing. This is why so many people were congregated in that place. They went there to be inspired by a story about a hero.
We like stories about superheroes because we crave justice, and in those stories we see justice meted out by superpowered avatars representing our best nature.
We crave good, because we live in a world infected by evil. We want to see right triumph over wrong.
As a Christian, I look at this and I feel compassion and fear and sadness all the other emotions involved. But I also feel hope. The wounds this one man inflicted can be healed. The fear this one man has instilled can be pacified. The chaos this one man instigated can be calmed.
All wounds can be healed. All fear pacified. All chaos calmed.
As a Christian, I have experienced the soothing hand of God. I find solace in that experience, and in hearing firsthand the words of others who have felt it. I find comfort in the words found in the Bible, promises God has given like “the Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (from Psalm 34) and “he heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (from Psalm 147).
There are many questions an event like this brings up. Why does God allow evil like this? Why are innocents allowed to suffer because of one man’s choice? What goes through a person’s head to take them to the point where they not only think about doing such a thing, which is bad enough, but they act on it?
Those answers are not what are needed right now, in the middle of our painful reactions. And guaranteed, the answer to the last question, if we ever do have an answer, will not satisfy.
And so, we cry out for justice. We grieve with those who have lost. We pray to God, lifting our questions and our confusions and our fears. We cling to the promises God has given us. And we grieve in compassion to those who have been harmed, physically and emotionally and spiritually.
Because the actions of one of God’s children have intruded on the loves of hundreds more of God’s children. And, really, all we can do is pray for them all. Pray that in this time, they might know God’s comfort and his healing and his love.