‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ – Aristotle

Like so many people today I am shocked and saddened by the horrific events that shook the town of Aurora, Colorado, early this morning. That anyone would open fire in a theater, or anywhere else, public or private, is beyond my comprehension. I cannot begin to imagine the terror of the men, women and children involved or the crushing grief of all those who have lost loved ones in this senseless shooting.

My heart breaks for all of them.

Aurora, Colorado

Aurora, Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My also heart aches for James Holmes and his family. Normal people don’t booby trap their home, don a gas mask and body armor, storm a public space armed with canisters of gas, an assault rifle and three automatic weapons, and start shooting. Holmes has no known criminal record and appears to have no history of violence. He’s described as quiet and shy, if inscrutable-a loner. What delusions drove this young neuroscience grad student to this heinous act? He was dressed in similar fashion to Bane, the antagonist in the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Was he on a mission? Did he think he was Bane?

The victims must receive justice, of course. Yet, although we have no semblance of a complete picture, we’ve already rushed to judgment. Networks are ablaze with comments about Holmes being a monster, blaming his mother, suggesting he ‘fry’ for his crime. Others, in a disgusting partisan attempt at gaining political advantage, are hurling barbs at the opposition, blaming Republicans, Democrats, the NRA . . .

It’s only natural in the wake of such a devastating event to lash out in anger. We stand as individuals, alone, not understanding-to a degree, perhaps we don’t want to understand, for understanding brings us far too close emotionally and psychologically to the horror. And yet, in times like this-for our own sake, the sake of our communities, our country, for the sake of our children-we must come together.

Events like the Colorado shooting both demand and build character-demand in that we are called to respond well; build in that, ultimately, we are the sum of our actions. Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.’ As a country, a community, as a family, we are called to act in excellence, to reach out, if only in thought, to those in need, to show compassion. To abandon, for one day, the vitriol and attacks, join hands, sharing our mutual grief, and love one another.

Also see: Natural Born Killers

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