“Man to man is so unjust.” — Bob Marley, Who the Cap Fit
My sister, who lives in Denver, called us Thursday evening.
As the call was wrapping up, she mentioned that she had to pick my 15-year old nephew up at the movies at 3 am.
Because he was on his way to a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.
The next morning, I awoke to the news that a madman had opened fire in an Aurora theater, not far from their home, during a midnight showing of the movie.
My stomach started doing flips.
It was bad enough that something like this had happened once again. Or that it happened in my home state, in a town I lived in briefly about three decades ago.
I knew there was little chance Adam had been at that particular theater at that exact time. But when an email to my sister went unanswered for longer than I could live with, I had to call to ensure he hadn’t been there.
And I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I felt when he answered the phone, and said he’d gone to a theater closer to his home. One that was, thankfully, madman and assault rifle free.
All weekend, we all were bombarded with a constant drumbeat of news bits, each adding to the still incomplete portrait of just what happened in that theater that night.
Yet none of the jabbering talking heads paused long enough to put this madness in perspective.
Twelve dead is a horrible, tragic needless waste.
But it doesn’t begin to compare with the 90 Americans who lose their lives on our streets every day. And it’s just one less than the death count of cyclists on SoCal streets this month alone.
Ninety killed every day.
Six-hundred-thirty every week.
Two-thousand-forty every month.
Yet there’s no breaking news reports for that story. No attractive anchormen or women breathlessly whipping to reporters in the field, no tidbit of meaningless information that’s not trivial to relate. No outrage or prayer vigils or 24-hour news cycles dedicated to the lives and deaths of victims of the rapidly compounding body count.
And seldom an arrest, let alone prosecution, even when the killer is known.
Instead, we just call them accidents.
Never mind that virtually every collision that occurs anywhere can be traced back to one or more people breaking the law, or operating their vehicles in a careless, distracted or intoxicated manner.
Accidents are virtually never just accidents.
Even on the rare occasions when killers are arrested, those who know them will argue that it wasn’t really their fault. If you only knew the whole story, they insist, you’d understand that he or she was really a good person who just made one little mistake, or did something so out of character it should be forgiven.
Even in cases where the driver left the victim to die on the side of the road, then ran off like a coward and hid the evidence of the collision in an attempt to avoid the consequences of his or her actions.
Seldom any consequences.
And even then, it usually amounts to nothing more than a limp slap on the wrist.
In the meantime, the body count continues to rise. And nothing is done to address the insanity on our streets; no politicians step forward to demand an end to our daily motor maniacal madness.
I don’t have an answer.
As well as changing our laws to force drivers to stop and stay at the scene of a collision.
Yet we all wait in vain for a political leader with sufficient courage to take a stand on the issue. Let alone actually do something about it.
Then again, none of our elected leaders seems to have the courage to do something about all the Columbine/Virginia Tech/Aurora massacres that actually do make the news, either.
I wish I had a solution.
I really do.
Other than demanding that our candidates for every office go on the record for what, if elected, they would do to address these parallel, if vastly uneven, bloodbaths. Then vote accordingly in the fall.
But at least I know a way to release that knot that’s been gnawing at me since Friday morning. And salve, in some part, the overwhelming sadness.
And that’s get out on my bike.
For a moment, for a hour, for an afternoon.
Let the wind blow away whatever tears may fall.
And just ride.
My prayers for all those injured or killed in the Aurora shooting. And all the countless named and nameless victims of the madness on our street.