The news of the Aurora shooting stopped my day completely. I searched YouTube for videos posted by those outside the theater; I listened to first-hand accounts. I wanted information, incessantly.
But as time passed and the media focus evolved – I realized it’s easy for us to move forward and to categorize this as the “Batman massacre” instead of something more meaningful. Maybe the best step towards recovery, especially for those distant from the event is to ask ourselves: How can I learn from this, and what should I do now?
In the days following an event as severe as Aurora, your actions and choices eventually determine how you (and the people closest to you) will remember this tragedy.
Here’s my quick commentary on the five things you can (and should) do to learn a valuable lesson from Aurora.
The news will tell you certain stories, but it’s your responsibility to actually find out what happened in Aurora. Do you know the names and backgrounds of the twelve victims? Try not to focus on the shooter or the fact that it happened during a Batman movie. Find out for yourself where the city of Aurora, CO actually is – that way this event won’t be imprinted in your mind as a “that could never happen here”.
2. Learn from it.
A few political and social issues are implicated here that we don’t normally think about – gun control, mental health, personal security, even health insurance. Pick one to research – find out your state’s gun laws or why bullying is an issue. You don’t have to become an expert, but it’s too important to ignore.
3. Use it as a personal reminder of your safety.
Talk to your children, family and friends about your emergency plan of action in all public places. This shouldn’t cause you to fear public auditoriums – but movie theaters are (and have been prior to Aurora) potentially dangerous. (It’s dark, there are a limited number of exits, and you’re distracted.) But by discussing safety calmly and practically, you’re taking the first step to raising awareness and increasing everyone’s chances of responding more efficiently. Answer a few “What to do if…” and you are intrinsically better prepared than if you had never even considered the possibility of something happening. Education is the antithesis of fear.
4. Read about the survivors.
These are the people that will carry this event forward, because they’ll be reliving it for the rest of their lives. Thanks to social media, we’ve been given the privilege of seeing inside their experiences. Read comments a survivor posted to Reddit immediately after, a message from a survivor to the media, or a moving tribute from a father that lost his son.
5. Be grateful and thankful, every day.
For the rest of us, tragedies are reminders of how precious our lives really are – it’s painfully straightforward to realize that we could have been the ones sitting in a movie theater. One of the best things we can do to honor the victims and their families is to never forget this lesson, and to truly value each day like it could be our last.
Stop holding the grudge. Stop putting that thing off. Call your mother back. Now. It’s simple but it’s the best self promise we can make – to live our best lives.