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Saturday, July 21, 2012


On any given Saturday, I would be talking about some of my favourite cartoons, educational programs, and other things that made Saturday mornings magical.  This Saturday is NOT one of those Saturdays.

The truth is...I’m not really in the right frame of mind to talk about cartoons today.  I’m angry.  I am very angry at the state of things these days.

I am sure that everybody has heard about the terrible tragedy that took place shortly after midnight last night in Aurora, Colorado.  At approximately 12:38 am during the sold-out premiere of the film “The Dark Knight Rises”, a gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Century 16 movie theatre.  At least seventy people were hit by gunfire that night.  Of those victims, twelve ended up losing their lives.  It is unknown at this time if the number of casualties will continue to climb, but it has already set a record that nobody wanted to see broken.  The July 20, 2012 shooting is now considered to be the worst mass shooting in American history.

I’m not even going to identify the name of the person who has been arrested in connection with the shootings.  There is no way that I want to give that person any more notoriety by publishing his name for all to see.  The only thing that I will say about this case is that I am happy that the police have apprehended the suspect, and if there is any justice in this world, he will never see the light of freedom ever again.

Of course, this shooting makes me wonder if there really is any hope for the world.

This shooting is just the latest in a long line of senseless tragedies that have taken place in both the United States and Canada in recent weeks.  Earlier this week in Scarborough, Ontario, a shooting rampage at a neighbourhood party killed a 23-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl.  Just weeks prior, Toronto, Ontario was rocked by a shooting spree at the Eaton Centre, in which five people were shot (two later died of their injuries).

(In a sad twist of fate, one of the survivors of the Eaton Centre shooting, Jessica Ghawi, was one of the casualties of the Aurora, Colorado shootings.

Last year, there was a shooting at an Arizona grocery store, in which several people were killed and congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded.

Then there was the case in Montreal, Quebec, in which a Chinese international student, Jun Lin, was brutally murdered, and his limbs were mailed to various locations all across Canada by his murderer.  I sounds like an episode of “Criminal Minds”, doesn’t it?  Sadly (and disturbingly), it really happened.

I am so furious that these senseless tragedies keep happening.  It almost seems as though these heinous and cowardly acts are happening at an exponential rate. 

Have we learned nothing from our past?

I’m sure that most of us remember where we were when we first heard the words “Columbine Shootings”.  The date was April 20, 1999, and I was in twelfth grade at the time.  When the news came out that two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado (which eerily enough isn’t far from Aurora) had masterminded a deadly school shooting which killed a teacher and twelve students lost their lives.  It was completely shocking to me, and it made me very sad.  A lot of the victims of the shootings were people my age that had their whole lives ahead of them.  They had gone to school that day to work on science labs and history projects...not to end up dead.

The people who were inside that Aurora, Colorado movie theatre certainly didn’t believe that a midnight movie screening would end up being the place where they would lose their lives.  All that they wanted to do was to see a movie that they had been looking forward to seeing.  That’s all that they wanted.

I think that’s why I am so angry about these latest shootings.  Each one took place at a location that almost everyone believed was safe.  People don’t go out to watch a movie, or attend a neighbourhood block party, or go shopping at the mall expecting to get shot.  So when something so senseless and cruel like this happens, it makes all of us feel like no place in this world is truly safe.

And, so help me, I’m mad about that!

I think we ALL should be angry about this.  We all have to speak out about these acts of violence because we all have a right to feel safe in our communities, our schools, our businesses, and our streets. 

I’m certainly not suggesting that we all go out and purchase guns, knives, and canisters of pepper spray to protect ourselves.  In fact, I highly oppose such actions.  Yes, I know that the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right in the United States, but fighting against violence by arming ourselves with weapons is just counter-productive, and just adds to the problem even further.

No, in order to make a stand, we have to do it through non-violent means.  Incidents such as the one in Aurora, Colorado last night are just more proof that communities have to band together in order to keep our streets safe.  We need to let the world know that we are not going to allow anybody else to die from violent crimes against society.  We need to take back our rights.

So, how do we do this?

We do this by continuing to live our day-to-day lives, and we do this by not showing fear.  The shooting caused several cities to postpone or cancel their premieres for the new Batman movie, and has made some people afraid to leave their homes.  But I think that we shouldn’t be afraid to go to a movie theatre or any other public place for that matter.  By staying away and letting our fear overtake us, we let the shooter win.

Just going back to the Columbine shootings, the damage caused to the school was extensive, and many of the students who survived that awful day were naturally traumatised.  But a few months later, when the new school year began, the student body of Columbine stuck together, wore the same T-shirt, and sent a message to the world that their lives, as well as Columbine High School, would go on.   It was a beautiful scene to watch because it showed an entire school banding together in the face of tragedy, and it sent the message that they were survivors, and that they owed it to themselves to continue living their lives the way they had done before that shooting.

I guess the point that I am trying to make is that, yes, the world can be a confusing and scary place to navigate, and yes, there has been a lot of bad news coming out of the media these days.  And it does make me very angry that a lot of innocent people were killed in these tragedies.  But I also believe that we all have a right to feel safe wherever we go, and I believe that we all have the power to speak out against senseless violence without using violence ourselves.

Such as what I am doing with my blog for today.

At this point, I really don’t know what else can be done to stop people from pulling weapons on each other...but I know one thing...I know that I’m not going to let those people have any control over me.

I’m standing up in the fight to help build a safer world.  How about you?

In closing, I want to post this statement that I believe says it all.  It's from one of the victims of the Aurora shootings, Jessica Ghawi, written shortly after the Eaton Centre shootings.  Although her life has now ended, her poignant words should serve as a reminder to us all.

"I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday (the day of the Eaton Centre shootings).  I saw the terror on bystanders' faces.  I saw the victims of a senseless crime.  I saw lives change.  I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on Earth will end.  When or where will we will breathe our last breath.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing.  So often I have found myself taking it for granted.  Every hug from a family member.  Every laugh we share with friends  Even the time of solitude are all blessings.  Every second of every day is a gift.  After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."
                                                           - Jessica Ghawi, June 5, 2012

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