It’s raining this morning. We woke up to bad news. Terrible, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching news.
And like all bad news, I’ve had to sit with it for a while before attempting to speak. My thoughts are always a little delayed. “This is so sad,” becomes “no really, this is SO sad” which eventually becomes “no really, this is devastatingly tragic.” I feel it instantly, but it takes longer to find the words. I am glad to have the day off.
What I want to say has already been said – my heart goes out to the victims, to their families, to everyone who woke up this morning and couldn’t find words. I feel the weight of our mutual sadness. I’m so sorry for all that’s been lost. There are no words that can help ease that pain.
But what I also want to say is that I have feelings about what happened last night in Colorado that extend beyond this incident alone, and they will be unpopular, but I need to express them, if only for my own attempts at understanding.
The outside world can be a sad and terrifying place. Bad things happen. Single moments can define us, and change us, and leave us feeling heartbroken and alone. We can lose everything in an instant. These violent acts remind us of that uncertainty. It is impossible to feel unaffected.
Because while what we feel is immense sympathy for the victims, what we also feel is a kind of egocentric sympathy for ourselves. We are all this vulnerable. None of us are safe from hurt.
It isn’t about us as the onlookers of these tragedies, but also, it is. It is about all of us. It is part of the human story. It reminds us that there’s still so much work to be done. There is far too much suffering and far too much pain. There are far too many stories that resemble this one.
People keep writing “what is the world coming to?” But the world is already here. We’ve been through this before. And as much as it pains us to admit, we’ll be through it again. The power of a single act will continue to overwhelm us, in the best and worst of ways. This too, is part of the human story.
And part of my human story is the inexplicable – perhaps disgraceful – part of me that feels something for the culprits of these unthinkable acts. It is not sympathy. What they have done is hideous and unforgivable. I could not, and would not, and am not defending them.
But there is something inside of me that recognizes that these are people in pain. Desperate, unrecognized and untreated pain. How sad and lonely and crazy the inside of their heads must be. And how can we ignore that this is happening? How can we keep allowing guns to be placed in irresponsible hands? How can we not be working harder to save one another, and protect one another, and use the boundless power of our voices and actions for good?
I’m not so naïve to think that everyone can be saved. I know that no amount of hugs would have stopped this from happening, as much as I’d like to live in a world where that were true. But I do know that there is a problem here, and it is not about a lack of emergency exits or security at the door. It is something larger, and sadder, and more terrifying. And we seem unwilling as a society and a species to address it.
There are people who feel trapped in the world that exists inside of them, worlds that can feel even more sad and terrifying than anything happening outside. And it leads them to do horrible, unforgivable things. And we don’t talk about that. And we don’t do enough to fix it. And we keep waiting for terrible things to happen before we allow ourselves to feel connected to each other.
And that is sad. No really, it is SO sad. No really, it is devastatingly tragic.
And while I don’t have answers, I do have knowledge, and it tells me that nothing can get better without change.