On the sanctity of (some) life

This morning’s news about the shooting in Aurora has left me deeply unsettled, and while I’m not sure how well I can articulate my thoughts about it, I’m too distracted by them not to try. Fair warning: this is a personal post, and it’s driven by emotion and experience rather than by research.

Aurora is terribly close to home for me. I have immediate family members living there (the closest mere blocks from where the shooting took place), and it’s very near to where I grew up. I know that my family is ok, but I’m still worried about second-degree connections: my brother’s friends, people I knew growing up. I’m trying not to imagine the people getting bad news instead of comforting news today, because it’s too hard to think about.

Looking back on the many years I spent in Colorado, I realize that it felt like an extraordinarily safe and sheltered environment, and that my community of family and friends actively thought of it as a safe and happy place. My family worried when I moved away for the first time; they worried even more when I moved to New York. But from a distance, Colorado doesn’t appear so safe. It isn’t just this incident; it’s the recent shooting in City Park, where EF heard the gunshots that killed a police officer; it’s Columbine, where my cousin was a high school senior trapped in a music room; it’s the 23-year-old shot and killed in a random attack just blocks from my family’s home in 2009. I don’t know anybody that has witnessed first-hand this kind of violence in New York. In Colorado, I know far too many people who have.