Friday, July 20, 2012

Thoughts on the 'Movie Massacre'

Devastating news this morning.

A gunman opened fire in a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado last night at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. As of the last report, 14 people are dead, and as many as 50 are injured. Several are critical. Children are among the victims, including one baby reportedly shot point blank. It's terrible! It's almost unbelievable! It's so incredibly sad!

Supposedly, the shooter was wearing a gas mask and a bulletproof vest, so reporters say he may have resembled the villain, Bane. As I picture the scene in my mind, the chaos they describe feels a lot like something right out of one of these modern movies. Batman's universe has always been a place filled with chaos and fear, but you don't expect that image to step off the screen and into our world. It makes you wonder what could happen next. It stirs up strong emotions.

What do we do when chaos and fear threaten to overtake our world?

In the fictional world, Bruce Wayne made up his mind how he would handle it. His solution was to fight fear with fear. Villains were scary, so he adopted the image of the scariest thing he could think of in order to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. He took the law into his own hands to do what he assumed no one else was willing or able to do, and he made it his life's mission to hunt down the bad guys and make them pay. But that's not really a good response in the real world.

Don't get me wrong. I love Batman. He's always been one of my favorite superheroes. I love the fact that he's just a normal human with no super powers. I love that he uses his wealth to help people instead of just wasting it. I love all the gadgets and the cool car. There's a lot to like about Batman, but I have to differ with him on this one point about fear.

I think we glorify fear too much in modern society. The news networks seem to be consumed with giving us worst-case scenarios and up-to-the-minute opinions about just how bad things could be. They go on and on about wars and rumors of wars and nuclear weapons and epidemics and shooting sprees - not just telling us what happened, but rehashing it over and over. And then we see people who commit terrible atrocities all for the sake of being noticed on the news. And we have people who live their lives in a culture of fear, afraid to go out, afraid to answer the door, afraid to live their lives because of all the awful things that might happen to them.

We can't live life this way. And we cannot overcome fear by becoming more feared because, as Gordon rightly explained in Batman Begins, it only leads to worse things.
"We start carrying semi-automatics; they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar; they buy armor piercing rounds. And you're wearing a mask and jumping off rooftops... Take this guy: armed robbery, double homicide. Got a taste for the theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card."
We cannot fight fire with fire forever. That only makes the fire worse. We need a better solution.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, 
but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
- 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

Recognizing that fear is not from God is helpful. Instead of feeding the fear, we need to have faith in the Lord, which produces power and love and a sound mind in us.

Now what am I saying? Am I saying the police should have surrounded the gunman at the Aurora theater and given him a hug? No way! He had to be disarmed, and he has to be prosecuted. But what I am saying is that instead of turning this and every other event like it into a media circus and simply feeding the fear, we need to ask ourselves where we went wrong and how this could have been prevented. What issues did this individual have that nobody was able to see and help him with? Love is what he needed - godly love, which not only addresses problems but is also powerful to transform lives when we realize how much God loves us and we are welcomed by a community of love in the Church. We must love others all the more in order to prevent things like this from happening again.

Love continues to be the need now that the shooter has been caught. Yes, he has to face justice, but he also needs to know that God still loves him, and while the rest of his life will bear consequences for what he has done, he doesn't have to be the same person who did this terrible thing. He doesn't need to just hear about love, but to experience it - to have someone listen to his problems and try to help him and show him kindness. I'm not saying this is easy. It's only really possible with the strength that comes from the Lord.

Love is especially needed for the many families of those who have been hurt and lost loved ones. We need to be arms of comfort for them, to grieve with them, to help them to find healing. I cannot begin to imagine the feelings these families must be dealing with today, and I pray continually for their help! They need to be surrounded by the community of God's love in the Church.

As a nation and as individuals, we cannot glorify fear, we cannot be paralyzed by fear, and we cannot simply fight fear with fear. But we must fight fear with faith. We need faith that gives us a level head so we're not always talking about the bad news and making it worse than it already is. We need faith that gives us the power to get up and go about our lives instead of letting the devil have the victory. And we need faith that builds in us the power to change our world for the better by showing people God's love and helping them where they are. It's not always easy to live this kind of faith, but we live it by the strength God gives us.

Lord, increase our faith! In our weakness, show Your strength, let Your love shine through us to others, and help us to focus less on our worries and more on serving You in everything we do!

1 comment :

Please comment on this post. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Is there something I left out or should have covered? Was something confusing? I want to know what you think!