2007-02-12

Trolley Square

I just came down to grab something to snack on. (Restless, I guess). That's when I saw the blue-ish glow from my laptop. I have a feeling that it's going to take a while to get to sleep tonight.

I started writing two different e-mails to friends, but I'm not sure that either of them would appreciate my esoteric ramblings at midnight.

You might have heard that there was a random act of violence at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is essentially the metropolitan area where I live. Apparently an armed man walked into the mall and targeted innocent passers by. He was killed, but only after he killed and wounded several. (check sltrib.com or other SLC media outlets for the specifics)

Like most people, I feel that Salt Lake City is essentially safe. Of course, there are places I wouldn't go at certain times, but for the most part, crime is low and life continues unfettered by the violence which plagues so much of the world.

I'm not sure what it is about these shootings that is so disturbing. Perhaps it's the randomness of it all. At some point in the future, we may learn about motives ... but what happened was essentially an irrational act -- something so reprehensible to most of us that we would never even acknowledge it as possible, as if our brains lack the ability to even comprehend such insanity or such evil, whichever it is that afflicted the attacker.

But strangely enough, we have to acknowledge that part of him that did such despicable things is also part of us. He is human, after all. No matter the extent to which we are "normal" and "balanced", we must recognize that we are also primal and instinctive. Thousands of years of the experiment we call society has, in reality, done little to separate our carnal selves from what we believe are our more elevated sensibilities.

I suppose that is why my first reactions to this random shooting were disbelief and morbid curiosity. Looking at the events, my mind simply cannot process them -- only in the most primitive centers of my brain do I understand ruthless violence. As my mind grapples to comprehend what would drive a young man to do something like this, I must face the reality that his actions cannot be comprehended. There is nothing to understand, no motive sufficient to explain such things -- they exist well beyond the realm of my rational framework. And, when I realize this, I feel pity and sorrow. I grieve for soul of a man that became so lost that he felt his only recourse was to take the lives of others.

This grief is, of course, greatly outweighed by my feelings for the victims. I grieve for the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends that were lost tonight. Their innocence makes their loss all the more poignant.