On terrorism

Note: I wrote this note this summer, but I never published it because I thought it sounded preachy and self-serving, as if I were standing on some moral highground, but after today’s events, I don’t care. Here it is, without edits, written about the massacre in the Colorado movie theater this summer. I haven’t changed a word. On the heels of yet another mindless shooting overnight in Colorado, the nation reels with yet another list of dead and wounded. Is this the price we pay for living in a free society where we allow just about anybody to have access to a deadly arsenal of weapons? I understand why the framers put the second amendment into the constitution, but I’m also wondering if we have outgrown our need for that amendment. The monuments to the dead are beginning to pile up across the country. Twelve dead in Colorado, and the number may grow. Now we can add Aurora, Colorado to our list of national disgraces and tragedies. Having lived with terrorism my whole life, both in Spain and the United States, my soul is worn out. Tears no longer help. Any sense of revenge on the perpetrator is both useless and pointless. The dead are gone. Their personal struggles are all over, but those who remain–the parents, the siblings, the friends, the families and the community–are forever damaged by this massacre of innocents. Most killing is usual personal and limited to those people that the murderer has wanted to kill: an ex-wife, girlfriend, drug dealer, but no matter what the motive, it’s always personal and explainable. Yet terrorism is the senseless massacre of innocents. Though some cynics might argue that there are no innocents anywhere, I would argue to the contrary, and say this, people at school, in a movie theater, at work, in a market, on a plane are all innocents from the terrorist’s point of view. Now, there is a callus forming on the wounded part of my own soul. I feel insensed at what this idiot has done, but he has accomplished nothing other than expressing his anger with the world and getting himself a life-sentence in prison. And now everyone knows his name. He has ruined his life and the lives of countless others, but the very sad thing is that his actions are totally pointless in the grand scheme of things. Tomorrow the sun will come up, the list of insane terrorists will be one name longer, the list of the dead will be a little longer still, but in no time, most of the world will forget, just as we have forgotten Killeen, Littleton, Fort Hood, Virgina Tech. The list of mass killings on Wikipedia is actually rather extensive. The pain and tragedy of such an incident as Aurora, Colorado or a Waco, Texas is real and true, but in a true act of self-preservation, we bury the dead, say our good-byes, and move on–until the next time. I’m not in favor of changing any laws, but I do wonder how a society produces monsters of this type. Is it a blatant consumerism, a culture which obsesses on success and punishes mediocrity with banishment? Is it a sick culture which produces monsters that shoot and kill blindly, in the dark, with no sense of right or wrong, lead by stupidity and ignorance? There is no meaning in the killings in Colorado, in spite of what the killer might think. His illusions of granduer are no more than that, illusions.