An Unexpected Adventure
Audible inadvertently took me on a Gun-Control journey
I like listening to books to fall asleep, and to do just that, I use the app Audible. I look for books by authors that I do not read in the traditional “print” way. Instead, I am looking for stories, genres and authors that I would not be normally drawn to if I were shopping in a brick and mortar book store. I choose books this way because when I try to listen to an author I traditionally read, or even a genre, half of my enjoyment is stolen by the narrator, because I lose the voices I put to the characters I imagine in my head. Anyway, I have enjoyed books by Rysa Walker, Agatha Christie and Deborah Harkness this way. I have truly enjoyed their stories, and the rest of the books Audible has lead me to. I also listen to educational books about writing, drugs and gun violence in America. In fact, a book about gun violence was an accident, but has had me on a 2-week long adventure traditional news couldn’t possibly take me on. I am listening to The Spiral Notebook by Stephen and Joyce Singular; a story about the Aurora Theater Shooter. I chose this book because it was a community that I belonged to, and knew well. The shooting — beyond the shock I felt when it happened, and the news stories I heard, was one I actually knew little about.
On July 20, 2012 a shooting occurred at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The movie was a midnight showing, and the victim count is massive. There were the dead, and the wounded, but also countless emotionally wounded, and families affected beyond people sitting in theater 9 that day. I heard some victim stories from the news, but the psychological consequences are tough for traditional news sources to report. After all, we do not get educated by Fox, CNN or NBC news sources. Instead, we get slanted toward an opinion they sell within their stories. And I have made it no secret — I quit watching 99.9% of the news years ago. I couldn’t stand the negativity or half truths anymore, and I couldn’t stand people using the “facts” from these sources to attempt to win their arguments. I am interested in learning though, and The Spiral Notebook has helped my education commitment.
Now first, let me thank God that I have not been personally a part of mass shooting incident. I am left with only one child in school (3 have already graduated), and luckily their schools have remained safe from the shooting epidemic. I pray this only continues. My dad knew a lady who was shot at a Wal-Mart in Colorado. He had worked with her for years, but this is the closest a tragedy like this has reached me personally. But I have belonged to some of the communities of these incidents. I have belonged to my own thoughts, and ideals, once they are “over” from an incident sense. And I have also opened myself to the ideas of others (I thought), even if they contradict mine, over the years. And then I started listening to this book, and I am less committed to my answers and ideas than ever.
The Spiral Notebook isn’t just about the theater shooter. The book touches on other shootings, as well thoughts from a teenage son who was not a part of the massacres in Colorado, but understands why they happen. The book also talks about movies and video games influencing our youth of today, and how they feel adults just don’t get what they are living or going through. And you know what? I agree. I had terrible days at school, and being a teenager is rough, but I got a break from terrible people when I went home each day. Today, social media, when left open and mismanaged, makes the pain children experience from bad or negative people never-ending. Social media also leaves them detached socially in a way I didn’t have to experience. You had to tell someone off on the phone, in a letter or in person, in my day. We didn’t have the mask of a computer. And masks make more things possible, and even more ugly. The book then touched briefly on a movie I had never seen, but intrigued me to watch. Fight Club staring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt gave me more “What The Hell”” moments than any other movie when I watched it, but I am an adult, not a child. I can only imagine what kids get from it, or the “power” they may see in it.
So, what is my point? I don’t have much of one. But I do have this…
I started listening to the book because I understood I would likely learn something new about a mass shooting that happened not far from where I lived. And I was right! I have learned a lot. I also have more questions, and the need to understand more, but also understand that doesn’t mean I will understand the shooter, but maybe a little more about the isolation our youth feels. I also understand the Movie I watched, and the book, have forced me to see a world I have been lucky enough to have not lived in. I also appreciate that it’s a world I need to learn more about anyway. And its opening me up to being educated beyond my own mind, and more importantly, the biases mass-produced on network news sources. And with that — I challenge YOU.
Am I genius now? Hell no. I am lucky enough to have had the chance to learn from the outside of shooting incidents. I do, however; appreciate that I know very little, and I can always learn more. Hopefully, if I ever think I know enough to debate any part of this issue — its comes from a place far more open than the place I was in before. I challenge you to get out of your own head long enough to learn something new. Challenge your own prejudices, and the hate influencing yours or other people’s reactions. I challenge you to educate yourself beyond your own ignorance. I will warn you — it requires far more time to open your eyes differently than they are now. But the journey is far more rewarding than any news cast will ever be that you choose to listen to. And if we were all educating ourselves beyond the norm — there just might be the opportunity for a truly productive conversation so the next life has a chance. I recommend anyone to read The Spiral Notebook. In fact, I would love to hear your thoughts when you do.