Many people go to the papers or TV news to seek every detail they can find to make sense of the motive of the perpetrator or logistics of the event. How could this happen? How did he get a firearm in there? Why did he choose that place and those people? Others go online to their Facebook or Twitter accounts scouting for the best post to share seeking connection with family or friends. What do other people think? What are the theories, assumptions, or hypotheses? What do the church, political, or community leaders think?
Of course, this is common- going outside ourselves to seek understanding and meaning of it all. But in either process, we might be falling into the trap of mass "groupthink" (arriving at irrational decisions in the desire for belonging or conformity within a group of people). Is it possible we're just buying into what the media commentators are opining or our political party leaders are theorizing in order to belong to some family of "like mind?" Do we really think that a guy is radicalized with one group when he pledges allegiance to several? Or do we believe that because people "in our group" said so? Could it have been something people don't want to talk about? Maybe the motive was a latent homosexuality he felt was frowned upon by society, family or friends.Or...?
What about our own theories or our feelings? It makes sense that our brains want to figure this out, and it's a great distraction for us until we get hit suddenly with an overwhelming feeling of sadness, anger, or depression, and don't know why. Why am I taking this so hard? I didn't know any of the victims, I'm not gay or Latina, or have ties to Florida. This doesn't make sense. Yet as in "systems theory," where everything is connected to everything else and nothing occurs without a reaction, we are all humans living together on this planet, making us all connected on some level whether we know it, believe it, or not.
So as science tells us, of course we would feel the pain or anger of those strangers across the country. Some of us feel more intensely perhaps, but nevertheless, whether it's conscious or subconscious, it's happening.
For our Colorado community that well remembers, "We are Columbine," "We are Aurora Strong," or "#PrayforClaire," this can be a trigger of reliving that pain all over again. Whether directly affected or from the secondary trauma of being a first responder or volunteer with any of those horrific events, it becomes imperative to be a little selfish. As the triggers reappear, remember to be gentle with yourself, take me-time for processing, healing, journaling, sharing with friends, or revisiting your counselor. Think for yourself, feel for yourself.
This column is written by Senator Linda Newell and appears in the Littleton Independent