A guest post by Chad Davis
Last night, tragedy struck Aurora, Colorado, as a lone gunman entered a theater twenty minutes into the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire onto an unsuspecting crowd. Like the rest of the nation, I woke to the disturbing news and was left with the residual feeling of nausea in the pit of my stomach. “All they wanted to do was see a f***ing movie,” was all I could think and henceforth began imagining what I would have done in the same scenario—duck underneath the seats, covering my loved ones as best as I could; wait behind a seat until he passed in order to sneak up and disarm the attacker; call the police; or maybe even try and reason with the man. At that point, however, any of the actions I would have taken would have been too little too late.
What drives a man to the point of massacre for massacre’s sake? What engulfs one’s mind to the point where a human being becomes a terrible idea? Just when does a child grow into an adult, capable of killing another, free of any remorse afterward?
I—as I’m sure we all feel—wish to be a hero. We indulge ourselves with the legends of one man’s past actions, calling them heroic or inspiring, when in fact that man simply acted because he saw no other choice—crashing a plane into a field rather than the Pentagon; taking the bullet for a brother; and leading a nation into a new era of unity regardless of the danger ensuing therein. These actions—though inspiring, legendary, and much deserved for their praise—are actions of one last measure when all of the problems preceding the current predicament have been ignored.
If you want to stop a man from pulling the trigger, you’ll have to go back years before when he was a child, still moldable and salvageable as a human being. You’ll have to show that child love and compassion and understand that he too suffers greatly. And though there are some people who have psychological disorders making them more prone to commit senseless acts of violence, it does not give us the excuse of abandoning them in their darkest moments. Instead of wishing for swift vengeance to overcome our “enemies,” we should rather wish for our enemies to feel love, not hatred. After all, hatred is nothing more than love disappointed.
If you wish to be a hero, don’t travel the world fighting petty thieves nor use your life savings to build an armory for your vigilantism. Instead, offer your sympathy to another living thing. Offer your love to those others that are hated. Offer your apologies to those you have wronged. Offer all around you—human and all else—your utmost compassion. Perhaps you will have stopped a massacre from occurring ten years from now with one simple act of love, showing a hurt child that he is indeed important and beautiful, no matter what the others may jokingly say.
Sure, this task sounds easy, but it is in fact the hardest thing for humanity to do. If it weren’t, we would not have the need for war, weapons, or violence. Like many other traits we have outgrown through evolution, I believe malevolence still remains to be sifted out of humanity’s genome. And that is why this article is so important today as we all reflect and are reminded of the senseless violence that plagues our world with its horror. Genocide, warfare, and random acts of violence seem as though they are here to stay forever.
But, does being heroic not mean upsetting the status quo? Does being heroic not mean sacrificing certain elements of your life for the greater good? To be a hero means we must be more than vengeful or justifying. To be a hero means you must endure the worst of times, leading others behind you to a brighter future. To be a hero means to love not hate, to be tranquil not angry, and to be patient with others around you.
My heart goes out to the victims of the shooting in Colorado, but it also goes out to the man capable of shooting random people at point-blank. Could you imagine living a life such as his, deprived of the ability to love and feel for others as we do? What horror in which he must constantly live, and what horror he must cause therein.
I am not advocating anything here besides peace and understanding. I am not blaming anybody for the event for there is no one person to blame. A man having lived a painful enough life to kill and not feel remorse is a man to feel sympathy for just as much as one would feel sympathy for his victims. All I’m asking you, the reader, is to challenge yourself every day to trust others, to love others, and to feel compassion for others—the more we trust and love, the more others will trust and love us in return. And should you pay the ultimate price for your good deeds, so be it. These things are simply out of our hands, but that does not give us reason to act without compassion and peaceful reason.
I’ll be the first to say that I have wronged many people throughout my life, whether in petty instances or greater. I have caused heartbreak and pain, I have shouted in uncontrollable rage, and I have ignored, countless times, others who have needed my help. I have been selfish time and time again, and for that I am unfathomably sorry. I am sorry to have made fun of my own friends and ignored those without anyone to talk to; I am sorry to have judged others in any capacity; I am sorry to have caused emotional pain; I am sorry for not helping every person I see that needs help in any capacity. So much as this letter may be a reminder for humanity to be heroic every day of our lives, it is also serves as a reminder for humanity to remember our humility and to say when you have wronged another.
It is my hope this article inspires some sort of good and compassion in those who read it as well as a sense of forgiveness in those whom I have wronged in the past. To be a hero means to be more than you think you are today—for yourself, for others, and for those you do not consider your “friends.”
So now I ask that you share your thoughts and feelings below on the matters I’ve discussed. Who is your hero? How can you help heal the wounds in the world? What can you offer to another today?
About the Author
Chad Davis is an aspiring writer of non-fiction, fiction, and screenplays. More than anything, Chad is an ever-learning and growing human being. You can see more of his work at his own blogsite: ChadleyDavis.blogspot.com.