As is the case with a lot of other people, this morning I watch in stunned silence as James E. Holmes, the shooter in the Aurora, CO movie theater murders (to call it a tragedy is to somehow dull the brutal reality of what this was) was arraigned in the court.
Holmes sat there next to his assigned lawyer. He had his hair in an odd orange/reddish dye, and had told the police that he was the "Joker" character from the previous Batman movies. His demeanor was one of resignation, perhaps a touch of remorse, but no emotional reaction one way or another.
It is the month of Ramadan, for Muslims a time of keeping vigil over own hearts and emotions, even as we now hold vigil over the victims in Colorado, in Myanmar, in Syria, and in so many other places.
As I kept watching my own emotions come and go, I wondered:
what am I experiencing as I see the first live images of this killer?
What goes through my own heart?
Is it anger? “Who could you take the lives of so many?”
Is it pity? “How could you have turned out like this?”
Is it compassion? “I reach out to you in compassion, knowing that the suffering you have brought to so many is mirrored in the suffering you yourself have been going through, and will be going through.”
I wonder if there is a religious zero-sum response in having my heart and prayers go out to the victims of this crime, and have compassion left for this murderer.
I wonder what goes through the hearts of the families and loved ones of the dozens he has killed and injured, as they watch him.
I wonder if perhaps the best thing that we can do is to simply reach out in compassion to others, as the President did in visiting the victims of this shooting.
“President Barack Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped keep her friend, Allie Young, left, alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital July 22, 2012. (Pete Souza/The White House)”
I have no grand answers as to what we should do, only know that I do not want to perpetuate this violence anymore.
As I look at James, I wonder if I see a murderer.
I wonder if I see a broken down human being who committed an unspeakable act.
I wonder if I can still see him as a human.
I wonder if he saw those whom he killed as human.
I wonder if the families of those whom he killed and injured can see him as a human.
This is going to be a hard Ramadan.
It has already been.