It’s 5:45am and my phone is ringing. No calls this early are ever good. Either someone is drunk dialing or something bad has happened. Hearing the ringing in the background of my REM sleep, I roll off the couch where I had fallen asleep and begin my zombie-like march to pick up the annoying noisemaker, when suddenly the ringing stops. Missed call, my sister. I sadly consider that she is calling again to commiserate about her beloved dog Hunter, who had to be put down this week. After all, it’s 6:45am her time and she might’ve been reminded of his absence when she woke up without him laying at her feet.
I call her back while face-planting back into the couch, still half asleep. The phone slowly begins to ring when she breathlessly answers and quickly asks if I heard the news. What news? Her voice becomes background noise after hearing the words “shooting in Colorado”. Apparently this call will be of the aforementioned latter variety.
She proceeds to tell me there was a theater shooting in Colorado, where I just relocated from after nearly a decade. Colorado being a vibrant, growing community of cinephiles and filmmakers makes the sting of this blow all the more lasting. I quickly turn on the TV to see my former state of residence headlining the news once again. Was it not enough that Coloradoans have just suffered weeks of endless wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes with an estimated $450 million in damage? Apparently not. Let the message be clear: neither tragedy nor senseless acts of violence discriminate.
Without question, this morning's events had hijacked my thoughts and I did not want to be at work today. I was simply going through the motions while waiting to get confirmation that friends in Aurora were (thankfully) unharmed. I later got word from one of my best friends, a selfless nurse who said two of the six admitted into the hospital she worked in, didn’t make it. Unable to understand what that feels like, I could only offer encouragement that her work is so important, especially when the going gets tough, and to keep fighting the good fight. Still, my heart aches.
It is indeed a sad reality when hundreds, if not thousands of people poured their time and creative energy into making The Dark Knight Rises a memorable cinematic experience for fans of the franchise, only to have it forever (unjustly, I might add) stained by this tragedy. Instead of excitement behind this film, we are now witnessing blood, sweat, and tears being shed for those innocent victims who merely wanted to be one of the first to cheer on one of America’s favorite superheroes.
Fourteen years following the mass shootings at Columbine High School, Colorado’s wounds are yet again opened and exposed, triggering suppressed memories and reminders of the aftermath, which affected so many in life changing ways and forever altered our perception of schools as safe havens. We are reminded then and again now, that we are never safe from harm’s way. No church, school, or a theater filled with anxious filmgoers can protect us.
If there’s one thing I learned about the people of Colorado after living there, it’s that the community is tremendously supportive of their own. They are very charitable of their time and money, they are very cause-oriented, and when bad things happen to good people, as is the case here, they get together to lend support. Colorado has survived this kind of tragedy before, as have other cities and towns, and they will rise triumphantly above it again.
While comparisons are being made to films like Taxi Driver or Inglourious Basterds, I’d like to draw your attention to a film of a different genre, whose message and themes we should more closely follow.
As young Trevor McKenney (Haley Joel Osment) said in Pay it Forward, “I guess it's hard for people who are so used to things the way they are - even if they're bad - to change. ‘Cause they kind of give up. And when they do, everybody kind of loses."
We need to come together to help in the aftermath, not hate. Donate blood. Volunteer your time. Mentor a child. Pay someone a compliment. Perform a random act of kindness. And most importantly, tell your loved ones how much you love them. The more we do to make a positive difference, the better chance we all have of eliminating incidences like this in the future.
I’ve heard that the only thing more powerful than fear is HOPE. Let us embrace this philosophy. Let us not come unhinged or cower in hiding. Let us not stoop to levels beneath ourselves to place blame on the government, the entertainment industry, bad parenting, or sporting goods stores. For although there are areas of opportunity in many, if not all of those accusations, we accomplish no good as a community if we further divide and channel anger as a result of this tragedy.
If we do, he will have won. If we stay home, away from the theater or in hiding, he has accomplished his mission and he will have taken a piece of our character. I don’t know about you, but I think he’s taken enough, so I don’t plan on giving him anything more.
I'm fully aware of how cheesy and cliché this all sounds, but I truly DO have HOPE, and today, I only wish to share that gift with as many people as I can.
Click here for Denver Metro showtimes for The Dark Knight Rises.
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