Friday, July 20, 2012

I Worry--Making Sense of Aurora

I tried to make sense of a thing that makes no sense. 14 (or more) innocent human beings tried to see a hyped-to-make-a-billion-buck uber violent Batman film “Dark Knight Rises,” the savagery of which is now so embedded in our culture in a very ordinary way. They were gunned down trying to merely watch a film. How can we explain this? We as a nation are not strangers to the violent ways of man.

This latest sensibility assault, as much of our tragic history, will, in due time, fade from memory but we will be left yet again with a PTSD of our collective souls. Violence, all violence, I believe is written in our species’ DNA leaving us with a startle reflex like an emergency wakeup call when a mother hears her infant cry out in the dark of night. Our memories are held hostage to man’s inhumanity to man in Aurora, Colorado, Columbine, VA Tech, and in Oklahoma City.
Our memories are also held hostage at a School Book Depository in Texas, and, indeed, at our country’s worst tragedy, all that was 9/11. Our historical knowledge is filled with such incidences of unthinkable violence in a Lincoln’s assassination, a Pearl Harbor where the souls of innocents float freely into the ocean’s deep. How many innocents die in the flower of youth and in the vulnerability of old age? Do we remember Gettysburg, Little Big Horn, the Alamo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Omaha Beach, Dresden, Fallujah, Tora Bora? Do we remember Khe Sanh, or Dien Bien Phu or the fall of Saigon? Do we remember Korean War battles of Pork Chop Hill and the Battle of Inchon? This, ALL of it, contributes to, as Hannah Arendt so famously said, the banality of evil.

I worry ALL the time. I worry about everyone close to me, I worry about war, I worry about climate change, I worry about the economy and how hard everyone will be hit by the banksters of Wall Street who have no conscience. I worry our nation has become alien to all the innocence I used to know so many years ago and all I loved.

A vile NRA makes their Second Amendment case for a civilian to legally possess an AK47 or an extended magazine of bullets so he can kill innocents with ease. I am sure our Founders would have cringed. The dialogue now waxes mean. The media provokes and encourages it because the media is about one thing – money. The commercial options now are few as the few own it all and will keep it no matter who they must kill, destroy or buy. The culture has become crude and the knowledge base of many limited.

We are an extraordinarily exceptional nation indeed – extraordinarily violent, extraordinarily superficial and extraordinarily profane. We have been taught to want to make a buck no matter whose body we must step over to make it with no care for those who cannot make it at all. I worry that the genie has been let out of the bottle and that its guardian of conscience can no longer protect its gate.

The Aurora, Colorado massacre may be the work of one deranged individual but collectively we must, through our history, all share some of the blame. We must retrieve that which is about goodness, caring and love. We must realize the violent primitive reptilian brain stem if not controlled could kill us like a cancer invading a body stripped of its natural defenses. We are, in fact, humane too, we are loving, and many give up their own lives so others may live. I worry, though, that this part of us is being erased by the all pervasive culture of violence and cruelty we know well so that what is left is that which emerged from the Age of Dinosaurs – unmatched cruelty in a quest for one thing – survival. I worry that our existential challenges will not be met and the planet will return to its own infancy, where life was savage and, ultimately, where human beings did not exist at all.