The less I post here, the more I fall into the trap of feeling like whatever I do post had better be profound. Or at least funny. Or at least beautiful. Or something. Anything better than ordinary.
And as a general rule, I don't like to comment on current events. Because it's easy to get cranky, or self-important, or hand-wringy.
But I'm going to disregard all that today, for better or for worse.
The first thing I want to say is that while any human-induced death is tragic, what I find most tragic about what happened last night in Colorado is how routine this script has become. The theatrical murder. The public feigning of disbelief and shock.
The total lack of real introspection on how we handle gun control and mental health services in this country.
There was a chapter in The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt that really struck me when I read it a few months ago and which I've been fixated on today. Amazingly enough, the chapter is available to read online for free.
I reread it today and although there are many nuances I would quibble with and lots of other things I would love to go on at length about on various tangents or expansions or argumentations, what I take as the central idea (every time I try to distill it, I feel I've mangled it somehow, but it comes down to the uniquely (we think) human ability to experience the self, as well as the univeral potential to experience transcendence of the self, sort of a sceptical/respectful investigation of religious feeling) is fascinating.
I'm having trouble writing down why this particular chapter matters to me today, but I suppose it's only because I these kinds of things alway feel like the supreme pinnacle of a kind of self sickness. I suppose it's just sociopathy (psychopathy? those are way too easy to confuse) on the individual level. But any time something like this happens, my mental state gets sucked down a bit into the mud. If there are people who see everything as so pointless and miserable that they will kill a bunch of strangers for the momentary rush of power...
Rise above it, of course. Look for the good. No one is condoning this. See the outpouring of support.
Perhaps that is my problem. Because nothing will happen except the installation of metal detectors at movie theaters (or maybe TSA-style gopings! oh, boy! Maybe this is the end of movie theaters), it kind of feels like everyone IS condoning this. And that makes society look hollow, cold, and terrifying. Just for a moment, until the veil falls back in place and we forget until the next time.
You could argue rationally that fewer people are murdered today than used to be, even with events like this. But just because things are better than they used to be, does that mean we shouldn't bother trying to make them even better in the future? Why are we not fascinated by the question of why when it comes to murder and war? Why do we let it go unexamined?