Yesterday afternoon I attended a matinee viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, the final movie in the Batman trilogy; the unfortunate setting for the tragic act of violence during the movie’s midnight premier in Aurora, Colorado. I, like so many others, have been following the unfolding of the theatre shooting and have felt a pull of singularity similar to the immediate reaction of patriotism that followed in the wake of 9/11. Sharing in the horror and impact of the intent and actions of one man I became immediately aware of my own fleeting life upon entering my local theatre. As the previews began my eyes searched for the emergency exits, and I took particular notice of every person who entered the room (all ten of them at that early time of day). During the first few minutes of the movie a rattling of gunfire on the screen made me alert and agitated, echoing the tragic testimonies shared of an audience who quickly diverted their attention from fantasy to reality in an effort to save and protect loved ones and themselves. I thought to myself, should I have come? But as the plot continued I became enraptured by the villainous mind of Bain, the sheer hopelessness of Gotham City, and the contemplative genius of Bob Kane on the relationship between good and evil in our worlds: fiction and reality alike. As the credits rolled up from the bottom of the screen at the conclusion of the movie, I sat recovering from being emotionally invested in the outcome of the plot and reflecting upon the men and women who are struggling to find solace and understanding in the aftermath of the Aurora tragedy. The truth is the movie made me think only of Aurora. The character Bruce Wayne repeatedly remarks on his identity being only a suit that anyone can wear. In an epic moment of dialogue during the plot the audience is reminded that a hero can be found in a single moment, “A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hasn’t ended (Bruce Wayne as Batman).” Although it is tempting to idolize the fictional Batman as the ultimate hero, there is a resounding distinction between the heroes of fiction and the heroes of our reality. The men, women and children who are picking up the aftermath of the Aurora tragedy are the heroes of our present day. Aurora has a nation of support surrounding them, cheering “rise!” as we watch a community climb out of the darkness of such tragedy. Aurora, I stand with a nation that is shouting cheers full of hope for you, that this tragedy will make you stronger as you search for answers, struggle with prayers, and learn the art of survival that follows great loss. Jonathan Blunk, Alexander Boik, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Matt MacQuinn, Micayla Medek, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Alex Sullivan, Alexander C. Teves, and Rebecca Wingo are names engraved on my heart. I could not help but to think of Aurora and the victims of that horrible night, and know that an entire nation is doing the same, as these words are echoed in theatres across the world, “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, that I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” Aurora, this is a moment for heroes, and we are all looking at you: a beautiful city, a brilliant people, a community that will rise from this abyss.
Glory Tree is hosting a free event to provide an opportunity for those in our Raleigh community to send words of encouragement and hand-made flowers to the families in Aurora.