July 21st, 2012
09:22 AM ET

Letters to the President #1279: 'The abyss of "Why"

Reporter's Note: President Obama has expressed his sorrow over the shooting in Colorado.

Dear Mr. President, I keep thinking about all those people in Colorado who lost loved friends and family members in that theater shooting. When I was a younger reporter, covering the news was so complicated and challenging that I had little time to ponder its human impact. I knew that murders were sad, and I felt bad for the families who cried, but I was so busy trying to do my job I could not dwell on such emotions.

Not anymore. The experience of having covered thousands of stories, and hundreds of murders, over the better part of four decades has produced the awful side effect that now I have far too much time to ponder what people are going through.

So this weekend, I find myself imagining over and over again all those fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, husbands, wives, friends, and more who are staring into the abyss of “why?”

It is such a terrible question, because of course there is no answer. Horrible things just happen sometimes. We can argue over our laws, our society, our politics, and our policies in hopes of reducing the frequency of such events, and maybe we can be successful to a degree. But I am convinced that unspeakable violence has been with mankind since the earliest days, and will appear among us from time to time no matter what we do. I don’t think I’m being fatalistic; just realistic.

I often wish that we could find a way to make it better, but since I’m not sure how we would do that (and indeed many of our fellow Americans are debating the options even as I write) I feel as if we have to try to do the next best thing: Take care of those who remain with us. Getting past events like this is a dreadful process for whole communities. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week. It takes a very long time. It takes a lot of listening, a lot of patience, a lost of reassuring folks that their suffering is not being forgotten just because the headlines fade.

Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind. And as much as I don’t enjoy the thoughts, I hope they are still on my mind months from now when I might forget…but those closest to the tragedy still will be unable to do so for even a moment.


July 21st, 2012
12:43 AM ET

Shooting witness: Killer was stoic

Two survivors of the Aurora, Colorado shooting describe the terror and chaos in the movie theater during the attack.

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Filed under: Colorado Shooting
July 21st, 2012
12:31 AM ET

Shooting witness thought attack was joke

Emma Goos was in the third row when the Aurora, Colorado shooter entered through the emergency door of the theater.

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Filed under: Colorado Shooting