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Tragic event leads to self reflection Richard Pena | Sat, Jul 28 2012 12:00 PM

When one reads this piece he is apt to classify it as yesterday’s news.  And he would be right.  I am writing about an earth-shaking incident that happened more than a week ago: the Aurora massacre. It is not up to the minute news but it is also something that is not soon forgotten.

Someone the other day suggested to me that the Taliban could take a breather.  They don’t have to come over here and wreak havoc. We have our own built-in crazies that will take care of the job for them.  And yes, what happened in Colorado was an act of terror and yes it was done by a crazy man.

The question that is most often asked in an incident like this is why.  Did the individual know that he was doing something that was going to affect not only the victims that he murdered or injured but all those folks connected to them?  Did he not know that it was going to affect all others of the civilized world just as surely as if it were the act of a known terror group?  I, for example, have no close relations with the tragedy.  Though the criminal known as James Holmes went to school in San Diego County he was at places of which I had no knowledge.  It happened at a place that I might have heard of but I most likely had not.  And I certainly did not know James Holmes. Why then must we concern ourselves with the incident?  Why not just go along minding our own business and not worry ourselves over things over which we have no control?  It is very simple.  We are not built that way.

I am part of that group known as “the Greatest Generation.”  They call us that because we have lived through various periods in history that have been of a significant nature.  Examples are the Great Depression, a couple of wars, periods of prosperity and then the nadir, the loss of loved ones and other such occurrences.  And even though we have lived through much trauma we are not finished.  There is more that will be stacked upon us before it is done.  I suppose it is because the gods of destiny have prepared those things for us.  And so, from time to time, we will have the James Holmes’s rear their ugly heads and add to the list of calamities.

Which still does not answer the question as to what it is that makes the James Holmes’s what they are?  From what we have read James Holmes should not have turned out the way he did.  He was an intelligent human being, bordering in the genius, well-educated, who, apparently, had no problems in his growing up years.  From what we can see he had devoted, loving parents who created a better than average environment for him and probably saw that he had no wants denied.  In such a situation he could have had the best of companions, peers if he chose, for which he could have shared thoughts and ambitions for which such folks wish.

We also wonder why it is that no one ever noticed James Holmes’ initial path to derangement. Surely there should have been some signs.  He was a loner, it is true.  But why?  Was there something missing in his formative years, something in his early-age education, that might have steered him on a different path?

Someone mentioned to me that he was probably without morals.  Judging by the results of his acts that is quite obvious.  But why?  Most of us pick up those positive and accepted traits through inculcation, through the acts of others, either peers or mentors.  What went wrong in James Holmes case?

As a civilized society we abhor the idea of pointing fingers.  We hate to lay blame on others.  But perhaps it is time that we do start laying the blame somewhere.  And we should start with ourselves.  Do we, for example, do acts that are going to make things a bit easier for the other guy?  Are we willing to go more than half-way?  Can we, at times, take on the role of mentor and direct someone on a more correct path?  Who knows?  We might be deterring another James Holmes.

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