In the Wake of Tragedy

When I read the news yesterday morning, I was shocked and horrified by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. My heart aches for the victims, their families and their friends, and I can't begin to imagine how James Holmes' parents are coming to terms with what their son has done.

Like many people, I've been both drawn and repelled by the news coverage. I want to know that the booby-trapped apartment has been safely disarmed and that the evacuated families will be allowed back into their homes. I want to hear that those wounded in the shooting are continuing to heal, and that the death toll hasn't risen. In some way, I want to find a reason behind the horror. But I know that I won't.

No matter what I read in the upcoming days, or during the eventual trial, I won't understand what James Holmes was thinking when he prepared and executed this mass murder. Whether his actions are deemed to be a result of his life experiences or from some mental defect, I won't understand what he is thinking now, and neither will those closest to him.

Yet that hasn't stopped many people from speculating or laying blame. Heated debates have been waged over gun control, religion and violence in movies. Both the conservative right and the liberal left have been blamed. And the whole thing leaves me feeling sick.

In the wake of a tragedy like this, we are all faced with the uncertainty and fragility of life. I look at the stories coming out about the victims and see them described in terms of their kindness, their humor and their warmth. They were loved and they will be missed.

Whether you believe that we only have one life or that we, in some way, go on after death, this life is the only experience we know right now. Instead of pointing fingers or looking for ways that our personal beliefs will protect us, we can use tragedies like this as a reminder to appreciate the lives we have and help others appreciate their own lives. We can make a greater effort to treat each other with compassion and respect. Regardless of differences in politics or belief. 

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