The most horrifying incident has happened again and in the painful bloody wake of another mass shooting, we are turning to our psychologists to ask how we might know potential mass murders in our midst or if gun controls /or conversely gun freedoms would help the situations. The same questions were asked after the Columbine, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, and Tucson ‘Giffords’ shootings. These questions are considered a very healthy part of the national grieving process, also as we accept a new reality on the world stage that public violence isn’t an act which happens ‘over there,’ but, like the rest of the world, affects Americans in their hometowns too.
It is very important to recognize that there are many bright, shy, reclusive, dropping out, confused people who may or may not be interested in popular films and receiving package deliveries… most of them are video games, clothes, and books, not weapons or ammunition arsenals. Public vigilance is a wonderful thing, but according to most forensic profilers I have read there is just no way would this fella have popped up on even a seasoned professional’s radar. Of course, in criminal Monday morning quarterbacking this creates sadness and anxiety. The human response is that we must do our utmost to be good to one another, to know one another as best as we can, and to reach out a hand in help whenever possible. In faith, we know there are a few people beyond reach… and this individual may have been one of those few.
Regarding safety and self-defense; I repeat what experts have urged everyone regarding all of these tragedies. When in public, be aware of your surroundings, know your exits and safety procedures, including basic first aid measures. As far as the status of public ownership of guns, I understand that in this particular situation it would not have made a difference; the shooter’s guns were legally purchased and return fire from victims would not have been effective, as there were so many people in the dark who could have been injured by such efforts, and the perpetrator had on body armor. The fact of the matter is that penning in helpless, undefended civilians is such a heinous cowardly act, causes us great anger.
What else is America doing to grieve? First there is mass media coverage, our national town center is our news coverage and how we share our information. It is important in our current times to see live coverage of current events so our vast country feels closer around these events. We praise the first responders, the medical personnel, the brave families…this is considered pathos, a way of following the ‘story’ as well as the ‘facts.’ We process via information, experts and asking questions. We discuss important matter such as the matters aforementioned and our legal process for the accused gunman. The President visited the survivors, spoke at the prayer vigil, and comforted the nation on TV.
Another matter mentioned numerous times, also that the survivors brought up to President Obama, was the notion that the gunman’s name not be spoken in order to not glorify him. We have learned from past tragedies that psychopaths enjoy the notoriety of their deeds and we are becoming wise to this by no longer allowing massacres to be named for the killers, but for the victims or survivors. This is one solid piece of evidence we can use to de-romanticize acts of terrorism. The Aurora gunman’s name will not be mentioned in this article… I’ll save it for the ink on his legal papers. But this shows solidarity with the survivors, gives them a big nod and wink that ‘we’ get what they are going through… even when we can’t imagine their physical and emotional trauma.
Lastly, I read something I cannot confirm on the internet this weekend. I read that the famed Westboro Baptist Church, the cretins who protest funerals of ‘everybody who aren’t them,’ plan to protest in Aurora. If this is so, and I dearly hope not, I’d like to offer a suggestion from something else I read on the internet. I read that The Texas A&M Aggies formed a ‘maroon wall’ by joining arms and peacefully locking arms to keep these folks away from a serviceman’s funeral recently. A local comic book convention also took place that weekend, and many of the workers, dealers and fans from that convention planned on making a wall as well.
May I suggest with enough notice that similar peaceful measures be coordinated to allow the grieving to attend the services in Aurora without interference from radical groups? It would be a wonderful national vision for the world to see that we can police our own nut-jobs in accordance with our own constitution. What a way to show developing democracies that it can be done peacefully, and what a dove to send up to those who lost their lives so senselessly to someone who could not envision cooperation.
Grief is an extraordinary rite of passage and should it be interrupted it could be psychologically detrimental to an individual …or a nation.
Gail-Elaine Tinker, M.S. is a Psychotherapist in the Lehigh Valley, PA in private practice who specializes in grief, trauma, chronic pain, addiction, and development disorders in adults. She offers individual, coaching, and small group format, as well as reiki relaxation, transformative art, and play therapy. Feel Free to visit her website www.tinkerpsychotherapy.com or call directly 610-216-4319.