What I Learned About Fear – Reflections on Colorado Theater Shooting
The news of the shooting that took place at a Denver Colorado movie theater shook the world. Our TSN contributor Kayla Albert happens to live a few minutes from the theater (and ironically had tickets to the midnight showing of the movie that night and ended up not going). This article was written three weeks ago on her reflections to the traumatic event. Don’t miss this article.
My eyes followed him as he paced back and forth from window to door and back again. He appeared agitated and on edge, and his demeanor immediately made me uneasy. I felt the pit in my stomach expand each time he passed by my table.
A few short minutes later, someone else appeared and the two sat and chatted at a nearby table. The scene I was witnessing was simply a man keeping an eye out for his late friend. Yet it sparked in me something I wasn’t used to feeling: fear.
Fear is generally not something that I grapple with – I’ve always felt that the world is filled with kind, loving people and I don’t need to be on alert every time I’m in a public place.
Then last Friday morning I awoke to the horrific scene that was unfolding at a Colorado movie theater a few short miles from my home.
I was deeply affected by the impact this had on the community I felt intrinsically tied to and extremely saddened to watch the intense fear this ignited in those involved and those simply watching the scene unfold.
I remembered news of the Columbine shootings being splashed across the headlines when I was younger, and watching how those events changed the way the Colorado community operated from that point forward.
To see another horrific event happen to the same community still healing from the wounds after all these years broke my heart in a way I didn’t know it could.
Yet, as is common with man-made tragedies and natural disasters, this event has already deepened our resolve to protect one another, to love a little deeper and to appreciate the lives that we are fortunate to still have.
An article written by Senator Michael Johnston stated it perfectly:
“It’s true that there was no Batman sitting in the theater to fly down and tackle James Holmes, as he hoped there might be. He had tactical assault gear covering his whole body, ready for America to fight back.
But love is more organized than that. Love has cell phones and ambulances, nurses and doctors, complete strangers and policemen and emergency responders always at the ready. Love has nurses who will jump out of bed in the middle of the night and get family members to watch their children so they can rush to the hospital and save the live of someone they’ve never met. Love has first responders who will walk into a booby-trapped building to save the lives of neighbors they will never meet…
The awe of last night is not that a man full of hate can take 12 people’s lives; it is that a nation full of love can save 300 million lives every day.”
We may allow one man to represent all that is wrong with the world, but there are countless others who have emerged through all of this as heroes, representing our innate desire to help and serve others.
Most of us go through our lives never experiencing physical harm at the hands of another – we are the majority. Events such as this one lead us to believe we are in danger, that we must protect ourselves from the evil “out there.”
But in truth, the world we woke up in today is the same as it was before this horrific event took place. That one man didn’t change the fabric of our country, of what we stand for, or what we hold dear.
If anything, he simply magnified it and strengthened our resolve to stand firm in our beliefs.
He wreaked havoc for one night and will spend the rest of his life in isolation.
He doesn’t have the power or freedom to determine how the world will change – we do.
Fear, especially the kind that can be so deeply seated, places a black mark on the vibrancy of who we are. It prevents us from being open, loving fully and connecting on a deeper level.
We are even connected to those we feel are evil – they too represent a side of the human race, albeit one we’d rather not see. We spend a great deal of time deciding how to completely wipe them free of our experience, but that’s not where our focus should lie.
In the face of great sadness, we need to turn to what we want more of, not what we wish didn’t exist in the first place. More love, more understanding, more appreciation, more strength, more life.
We are fearful because of what we believe the world may become, but our fear simply offers strength to the darkness.
Mother Teresa said, “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
Let us pour the energy we expend being fearful into offering strength and love to the victims, into holding our loved ones a little tighter, into letting go of the little things, into being profoundly grateful that we are able to live another day.
Let us find a way to illuminate the darkness with the light we already posses.