Yesterday, it was all over the news about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. And all over Facebook. And all over Twitter.
I held off writing about it because I wanted to wait until the facts, such as they were, settled out. Also, just about everybody does the “how do I tell my children” story. And we don’t need to do that again.
I think the big thing to hold onto is that these events are extremely rare – and that’s probably where to start reassuring our kids. Granted, it’s a little hard to explain very rare to a 5-year-old, but it can be done.
It’s also important to remember “very rare” as people start over-reacting and trying to prevent such events by tightening up security. One of the problems with the prevalence of media (and I’m including social media here), is that it brings these sorts of tragedies a lot closer to us. It feeds into the problem of televised violence, in general, in that it either de-sensitizes us or makes us more afraid. So, instead of sitting back and recognizing that was an isolated event that doesn’t happen more often than once in a few years, we freak out and try to control everyone and everything within reach.
There is scary stuff in our world, but by and large, it’s a lot safer and nicer than we think. I’m not advocating leaving your house unlocked at night. But last week, I went on a quick overnight trip. The post office was supposed to hold my mail and didn’t. Mail sitting out overnight is supposedly one of those engraved invitations for burglars. If the world were truly as dangerous as we are led to believe by constant viewing of violent television, my house would have been ransacked. It wasn’t.
Yes, it is terribly tragic that 12 lives were lost. But that is 12 people out of the roughly 200 in the theater at the time, out of the thousands, if not, hundreds of thousands, living in Aurora, not to mention millions living in Colorado, millions upon millions more in the U.S. and billions in the world. The odds of being hurt or killed in such an incident are extremely low – I think you’d stand a better chance of being hit by lightening.
I offer my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims and will continue to pray for them (send good thoughts/whatever your preferred expression). But we do need to keep an appropriate perspective and not let the closeness of media skew that.