As we see the pictures of the dead, read the stories of the wounded, hear interviews with those who escaped unharmed, and watch the video of men, women and children running or stumbling out of the theater in Aurora, Colorado, we realize that they are just like us, that could have been us.
Just imagine being in that movie theater minutes before horror. I would be one of the dads, feeling like a hero because I was able to get my kids tickets for one of the first public area showings of the new Batman movie. My boys would be dressed up in Batman costumes, like dozens of other children who took a nap earlier so they could stay up after midnight.
The excitement, the happiness in the theater is palpable. Applause breaks out as the movie begins, and I sit back ready to get lost in a fantasy battle between good and evil. And then real evil kicks open the door.
The children in the theater find out first hand that monsters are real. There is a real monster right in front of them, his head covered with a helmet and a gas mask, his arms filled with guns and bombs, his only goal to kill and create terror. Seconds later, choking smoke fills the theater. Bullets and screams soon follow. Infants and children are bleeding. Lives are lost. Lives will never be the same.
The smoke has long cleared, many of the wounded are still being treated, and the monster is in a cage, never to roam free again, but the horror still remains in the form of an eternal question: why? We already know the answer, but choose not to accept it: Evil is and evil always will be.
That is why we can so easily imagine ourselves, or a loved one, in that theater—or in any place where evil strikes without warning or reason, which is everywhere and at anytime. We know that and still we try to find comfort in other possible answers.
I have heard TV talking heads debate those answers ad nauseam over the past few days, as if talk itself may hide the horror. Some blame the culture in modern America, although other cultures and other times have been and are much more violent. Some call for new gun laws that would have done nothing to stop the intent of the monster in the Aurora theater. Some say we should ban all guns, which will never happen. Some say we need more guns, which is insane.
The answer remains the same: Evil is and evil always will be
Our fear comes because it is so random; we take solace in the rarity. And in reality, just like in a movie, evil always loses in the end—but it causes much heartache before it is stopped.
So mourn for the dead, feel for their families, but know there is nothing to be gained from trying to solve a problem that has no solution. And there is nothing to be gained from trying to make sense of something that makes no sense at all.