The first are those who lost their lives in this shooting.
The second is us, as a society. The eager watchers of it.
It’s funny that we live in a culture where our children are entertained daily by movies in which human beings get maimed and shot to pieces. But the moment the screen shows two people loving each other, the TV gets shut off or hands go over the eyes.
In fact, that’s not funny at all.
When we hear about children getting murdered, the natural response would be to turn away and cover our ears. Instead, what happens? TV crews show up to exposit every gory detail across the airwaves. For our viewing pleasure. To a culture steeped in this kind of thing, this is just another movie where we hate the villain and feel bad for the heroes.
This isn’t about the tragedy of children dying. We don’t care about that. Think of all the children who have died at the hands of cancer this week. Are their lives less important? Do you see presidential speeches or candles on Google for them? Of course not, their stories weren’t as vivid or violent. There was no villain to enjoy hating.
Screenwriters know that the job of any good story is to provide a powerful emotional experience. That’s the reason this story gets attention: It has villains, heroes, and victims. It looks just like the vivid movies we are accustomed to watching. In the most heartbreaking sentence I have to write: We can easily relate to the images of what happened in Newtown because we entertain ourselves with fictionalized versions of this story every day.
The Newtown shooting provides a quick fix to our culture as violence-junkies. Just sit down and watch (in between the commercial breaks, of course) as the vivid images are painted before your eyes. Or, you could honor the tragedy by shutting of the TV and fixating on the love – not the violence – in your life.