Living in fear … emphasis on ‘living’

Friday’s horrific mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater after a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” prompts some natural reactions within the human psyche. People who had plans to see a movie would have this terrible event on their minds, and perhaps some would choose not to go. In fact, some moviehouse owners encouraged people to not stay away.

It begs revisiting the old discussion — are we going to live in fear?

I admit to being somewhat of a “fraidy cat.” I have trouble even being in the same room as a gun. There are a lot of things I’m too afraid to do: sky dive, bungie jump, ride a motorcycle (even with a helmet), jet ski, water ski — basically a lot of fun things. Somehow, somebody once got me to zipline.

But I consider most of the above “unnecessary risks” — my opinion, of course, not binding on anyone else and not condemning of anyone else. In my mind, they are things I don’t need to do … so I won’t, and that’s my choice.

However, the terrifying, tragic events of early Friday morning are of the grave scale that can drive the fears of some to become more consuming. Do we live in that fear? Do we need to stay in our homes?

Mass shootings usually happen in common places: work, school, church, restaurants, movie theaters. Places where people go to learn, worship, earn a living, enjoy their time — everyday places.

I feel the fear whenever I read a news story of this type of tragedy. I am of a mind that can slip into that fear — for myself, my wife, my young son (whose safety is such a concern to me that for some time it caused me serious anxiety). Thoughts come to my head of being overcautious, and I almost self-justify them because of the nature of these crimes — that they can happen anywhere, anytime, and can’t be stopped.

But that is not the correct approach. Those who commit terror want people to live in terror, and nobody can let them win. While I don’t believe it is wrong to have fears — particularly even when going about everyday tasks and errands — those fears should not stop us from being functioning humans, even though they are a natural part of being human.

Maybe many of us do live in fear, but we still need to live. And that’s what I take to my heart when a tragedy of this magnitude strikes.


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