I don’t have photos to go with what I want to write about today (thankfully). In looking for photos, I stumbled across these macro images of bloodroot flowers, blooming in the early spring, lasting only a few days, and then blowing away in the wind. This seems like the perfect symbolism for the topic on my mind.
I scanned the names of the dead from the Aurora massacre, hoping not to recognize any of the names, having worked with many colleagues in the vicinity. I didn’t. But it broke my heart anyway.
I cannot imagine what makes a person start buying weapons for a war and then go wage that war in a local movie theater. It’s the most troubling part of the whole thing: Why?
There have been times when I have said I wanted to kill someone. What I meant was I wanted to have the power to make the other person regret whatever it was they did that upset me. Even in my fantasies this is accomplished via a stern and thoroughly brilliant speech.
I ponder this feeling for a moment. I wonder where the line is between being angry and imagining some sort of reckoning where we are righteous and brave and we smite our enemy versus actually resorting to physical violence?
I also wonder how much the anger and frustration I unleash upon the world creates more anger and frustration in a domino effect.
When I used to ride my bike 26 miles to work and back, if I rode with the expectation that cars were going to run me over and the attitude that I wanted to “kill” them for it, I frequently got honked at, buzzed, and generally terrified by passing cars even though I did not perceive myself to be riding any differently.
When I rode so thoroughly enjoying the ride that I didn’t have any space left for anger, I realized I smiled and waved at drivers whenever they did anything considerate, feeling grateful they were thinking of me. No one ever honked at me when I rode with this attitude. I didn’t get buzzed and I wasn’t terrified.
Is it possible we ultimately can prevent killing sprees with something as simple as a smile?
If we can make a connection, can a potential killer see us as real? That is, see us as they see themselves–intertwined, interdependent, beautiful flesh and blood? Shouldn’t finding that connection, nourishing it, keeping it alive as long as possible be our top priority no matter where we are, who we’re with, or what we’re doing?
Maybe we can’t stop someone from becoming a killer, but maybe we can at least reduce the number of people who walk around fantasizing about killing people. And maybe that will lead to more smiles and a little more joy all around. After all, if I’m going to get gunned down by a homicidal maniac, I’d like to have spent the time I had smiling.