Today’s headlines are a little close to home for me. My cousin is the city manager of Aurora, Colorado, where (at this writing) twelve people were murdered and dozens wounded in a shooting spree at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie. I haven’t heard from him yet, but I’m sure he’s up to his ears. A lifetime of experience can’t begin to prepare you for something this horrific.
The way the media covers tragedies like this one can be debated for eternity. Often in crisis, news organizations shine. But too often, as hours turn into days, they give in to what they defend as ‘the public’s need to know’.
Honestly, all the public needs to know are the facts, especially in the immediate aftermath. I don’t want to hear the 911 calls, and I’m betting the families and friends of those who died probably don’t want to hear them either.
Grief is hard, even if you think you’re prepared for it. But grieving in public…well, that’s a whole different ball game.
Imagine – if you are lucky enough to not know anyone affected by today’s tragedy – that you knew someone who died in that movie theatre. Imagine how you’d feel…
…seeing their picture on TV and in the papers.
…reading blog posts from people with a political axe to grind who blame your friend for not defending themselves with equal or greater firepower.
…hearing religious leaders either insist that your friend is “happy” now, or condemning them for not being ‘good with God’.
And yes, some of these things have already happened today.
So as we struggle through the next days of mourning and healing and questioning, try to refrain from finger-pointing, even at the shooter.
Light a candle, say a prayer, whatever.
And think about not only the families left behind, but the many, many friends.