I really thought there was nothing to say or write about the shootings at the Aurora, Colorado, movie theatre. The prattling, smug, and often unsubstantiated talk filling the airwaves and print pages really added nothing. But then I realized that there is indeed something important to conclude from this tragic episode. And it’s one of the most important things — perhaps the most important of all — to understand about history, civilization, humanity, and society.
None of us is perfect. We all have weaknesses and shortcomings. And some have more than others. We see a daily display of jealousy, anger, hatred, ignorance, misunderstanding, clashing goals or interests, and the whole panoply of bad things that humans think, say, and do.
Just read the talk-backs to articles on almost any subject and you quickly find that kind of bickering, meanness, passion overcoming facts, hidden agenda, and the hundred other things that, as Hamlet says, “The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks/That flesh is heir to.”
This is the world we live and die in. Perhaps we succeed or fail, in our own eyes or those of others. Perhaps we don’t have as many material goods as we would like or as much fame or as much respect or as much power. Frustration is not some accident that crops up; it is woven into the very fabric of life.
And so someone cracks, as happened in Phoenix, Arizona, or in Aurora, Colorado. They might crack more quietly as serial killers do, or publicly as do those who suddenly turn on strangers. Or the cracking can take place on a world stage, as rabid dictators with howling followers go to commit war, massacre, oppression, and terrorism.
Or it can be on a tiny, human level in the daily acts of rudeness and sins to which we are victim and that we commit even to loved ones.
There is no solution. Certainly, individuals can be helped; problems can at times be diminished. But there is no political ideology or government program or redistribution of wealth that is going to cure humanity’s ills.