Saturday, July 21, 2012

When bad things happen...

I was going to write about the Soap Box Derby today, it being a big deal here in Northeastern Ohio, but I can't. Everything I  could have said has been completely driven out of my mind by the horrible events in Aurora,Co.  Although these tragedies shock and sadden us, they longer surprise us in the way they once did. Every time such things happen, I find myself juggling multiple reactions at once...reacting as a mom, and as a 911 operator, and also in some way to the setting where it occurs, be it a restaurant, a summer camp, a school or now at a movie theatre.

When something like this happens we are changed forever by how it happens and where it happens. We distrust people who fit our picture of what happens. (though we never seem to be as worried about white males with access to guns as statistics suggest we should be) The vary randomness of the circumstances disturb us. Its not like the victims were on the wrong side of town or engaged in illegal behavior. They were in a seemingly safe place, that suddenly became unsafe.

As a lover of films I find it especially jarring that this happened in a theatre. A place to have fun with friends, the escapism of a good film, the excitement of attending a premiere, all violated forever. Once something like this happens we can never completely dismiss it. Just I cannot to this day sit down and watch a Monday Night Football game without remembering the Monday night in December 1980 that Howard Cosell told us of John Lennon's murder; so I will not be able to go in a theatre or read anything about this movie without thinking at least momentarily about the tragedy.

As a 911 operator, I look on events from a more professional perspective as well. I have attended workshops on how to handle these sorts of incidents, have had to watch security tapes of shooting incidents to learn about how they evolve and how police officers and EMS personnel respond. Every time the media releases 911 calls I listen to them, marvelling at how well the call takers manage to handle the calls. (I marvel at callers too. Most do astounding jobs in the face of chaos conveying vital information.) Whenever these incidents occur, I find part of me remains apart from the emotional aspects of things, and totally drawn into the workings of the Police and Fire Departments.

Its our perspective  as parents that gets us where we live of course.  When children (especially) are harmed in a seemingly safe place it is the stuff of our nightmares. Although neither of my children are Batman fans, they have gone to midnight showings of other movies, and the daughter is already nagging me about the Breaking Dawn 2 premiere this fall. Of  course we read about these horrific things and picture our children involved. Of course we worry about what can go wrong the next time. Children have no idea what an act of courage it is on the part of their parents to ever let them out of the house. But of course we have to. They have to go out and have lives. We can minimize risks as much as possible, but can't eliminate them completely. They have to go out into the world.

A few years ago, some Boy Scouts were killed and others  injured when a tornado hit the camp they were taking a leadership training class at. The upside of the story is that the other boys immediately began rescuing and giving first aid to their friends. My son had taken the same training at our local camp and more than one person told me that when they heard the story they had thought of my son, that it was just the sort of activity he would be in attendance at, and didn't I worry something like this could happen. My response was always, yes I did, but I could only hope that if something like that did happen he would be one of those scouts following their training, and doing what he could to help. We can't completely shelter our children (or ourselves) from danger, so we have to make sure they know the right things to do when confronted by it.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said and oh so true. The fact that you are a 911 operator and know more about what's likely going on in such circumstances is all the more jarring. I remember years and years ago hearing about a gunman at a college lining up all the female students and shooting them and thinking how horrendous and unfathomable it was. Now it is fathomable when this happens time and time again, but no less horrendous. The thought of a summer movie, families out to have fun and in the cocoon of a dark theater is heartbreaking.