Arapahoe High School, the scene of yesterday's fatal shootings, is 8 miles from Columbine High School where 15 people (including the shooters) died from gunshots in 1999. It's 16 miles from the Aurora theater where 12 people were shot in the summer of last year. For a resident to deal with any one of these three events would be difficult enough. Dealing with all three is unimaginable.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists will have to say whether the Werther Effect is a factor in these killings. There will be renewed calls, understandably, for gun control. But my jetlagged reaction at 3 a.m. is more emotional than logical. I cannot reconcile the horror of these three events with the natural beauty of Colorado and the desirability of life in Arapahoe. Two things come to mind. One is the chilling line in the movie Casablanca that "human life is cheap." Arapahoe is not Casablanca, and neither are the venues of the other mass shootings since Columbine -- apparently endemic in American society. But a disregard for human life is a precondition to all these shootings. Love thy neighbor, goes the simple advice that we have such a difficult time embracing. The other thing in my mind is that it's the season of Advent, not Christmas. Advent reminds us that we need a different, better communal life.