Gun violence and the death of joy: We’re losing the places where we once felt safe
A very interesting and very good point by Jennifer Wright in Salon.
I used to love going to the movies. It didn’t even really matter what was playing. Through my teenage years and early twenties whenever I was stressed, I liked to go to the local movie theater. I liked it when the lights went down and everybody got really quiet. I liked how hopeful and expectant that moment was. I liked the feeling that everyone in the theater was experiencing something together. We didn’t have to talk. We were united just because we’d paid our $14 to go someplace and escape our daily worries. I know movie theaters aren’t really sacred, and I don’t want to blow their importance out of proportion – I can’t say anything beyond the fact that I really, really liked them. They were a place where I felt safe and happy.
Everyone probably has some place like that. For some people it’s church. For some people it’s school. For some people it’s a nightclub.
Or, more and more, people used to have places like that.
I don’t especially like going to the movies anymore. After Aurora, I suddenly found that I was skittish in theaters. If somebody entered too boisterously after the movie had started, I no longer thought, “They must have gotten here late.” I immediately thought, “Oh, God, do they have a gun?” And, once I’d convinced myself that was surely an isolated event, it happened again in Lafayette. When I go to the movies now, at the end, I think, “well, that was a nice movie” and I also think, “I’m glad I did not die in the course of it.” There are a lot of people who feel similarly, perhaps, about flying on a plane. And I do still go to movies. But the unfettered pleasure of it, the joy, that is gone.
To which some people reply, “Well, the world was always a dangerous place!” It was, that’s true. However, America was not historically this dangerous. There were 32 gunfights and shootouts in the Wild West from 1840 to 1918. There have been 173 mass shootings in America this year. That may have had a great deal to do with the fact that – despite the NRA’s attempts to glorify it is a period where manly vigilantes were free to be men – gun control was stricter in the Wild West than it is today.
Besides. There used to be places and activities that were understood to be dangerous. You could avoid those places. Not so much anymore. I’m not planning to play chicken on the railway tracks. I just want to go see “The Lobster.” . . .
How many must die before action is taken? If those dying are from the top 0.1% or the top 1%, then I would imagine very few. Urban poor? Tens if not hundreds of thousands over years and decades.