Not deferential enough: And nobody noticed

Posted Friday, July 20, 2012 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: And nobody noticed

by Gina Hamilton

A mother gets a call in the middle of the night.  Was a young man named James Holmes her son?

Yes, she said wearily, James was her son.  The reporter had the right house.  And the police had arrested the right person.

James Holmes, age 24, until very recently a Ph.D. candidate in the neuroscience program at the University of Colorado Medical School, a brilliant young man with his whole life ahead of him, walked into a midnight theater in Aurora, Colorado, and shot and killed 12 people, wounding dozens more.

What makes a 24 year old boy ... for those of us with sons of that age, we know they are boys, not men, although in the eyes of the law James will be treated as an adult ... decide to murder or wound dozens of people? What led to that kind of rampage? Didn't anyone notice that James was troubled? When he dropped out of school, didn't anyone think to make sure that such a life-altering decision hadn't been taken in haste, that perhaps James needed counseling?

The people he shared an apartment building with say they didn't know him at all.  How can you pass one another in the hallway, dozens of times a week, and not say hello, especially if you're of an age together? Didn't anyone ever ask him if he wanted to join the group for drinks, or a disc golf game, or just go down to the bar and play pool?

James Holmes was on no watch list.  He was not connected to any terrorist group. He apparently had few friends. There was no way for anyone to know that he had snapped, mentally, and was about to commit a horrific crime.

James must have been a child any parent could be proud of.  He had graduated from the university and was on his way to becoming a doctor. 

And then ... this.

We may never know what triggered the horror that James Holmes unleashed on a theater full of innocent men, women, and children.  We can only hope our children aren't in the way when the next James Holmes snaps and takes out the next dozen innocent people.

And perhaps one way to make that happen is to look at James' life, and ask, "How did no one notice?"

And then try to notice in the future. With every fiber of our being.

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