Like basically every other science fiction and fantasy geek out there, I’ve been planning on seeing The Dark Knight Rises. I haven’t done the opening night screening thing since the last Harry Potter movie with The Boy, but I planned to catch it in the theater.
This morning, like everyone else in North America, I heard the news about the mass shooting in Aurora, at a showing of the movie. Like everyone else, I’m angry and sick and sad that it happened.
But I’m not stunned.
I’m not surprised.
I’m not shocked.
We live in a world where that happens. It doesn’t diminish how awful it is; but after Columbine, after Pearl, after Paducah…
After Standard Gravure, after Virginia Tech, After 911, after the anthrax scare, after so many senseless acts of violence just in my lifetime …
I can’t be stunned. I can’t be surprised by it. We live in a world where that happens, too often to be either stunning or surprising.
I do not believe “all people are basically good.” While we all have great potential for good, much of the time, that potential goes largely or entirely untapped. And our capacity for evil is breathtaking and visible everywhere. When my internet use becomes almost exclusively professional, it’s because the social web has been reduced to a screaming match. Your brain can only cope with so much hype, so much hate, so much envy, so much belligerence.
We can’t be surprised when people do awful things for attention, when we worship fame. We live in a society where attention is the coin of the realm.
We can’t be shocked when people hurt others in some sick quest to right some perceived wrong, when we elevate political opinions and religious stances to something worth threatening violence over.
We can’t be shocked or surprised when things take a turn for the worst. Especially when they seem to take that turn as often as Franchitti turns left at Indianapolis Speedway.
But we also can’t just accept it.
We can seek out reasons to hope. For me personally, the gospel gives me hope even when things get very dark.
We can take responsibility for our own demons. We can strive for kindness. We can seek out ways to promote peace. We can forgive others, even when it’s hard, even when we think they deserve punishment instead, because other people are watching.
We’re all each other’s witnesses now, possibly more than we’ve ever been thanks to the keyholes and windows created by social media.
The masks are off.
Whether a monster or a hero lies beneath is your decision.