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Nina In New York: Things Aren’t Great

A woman holds candles during a memorial service outside the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

A woman holds candles during a memorial service outside the Aurora Municipal Center July 22, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

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By Nina Pajak

Sometimes, it’s all too much.

We don’t live in happy times. Maybe there has never been an era when the inhabitants actually felt times were generally happy, but I know this isn’t one of them. Our country is at war both internationally, literally, and domestically in so many less official ways. It feels to me as though the gaps between different groups of people have deepened and filled with an impenetrable hatred, set like concrete. An obscene six-year-old pageant queen named Honey Boo Boo Child and her obese family now have their own television show.

And then, despite the joblessness and the corruption and the vitriol and violence, we persevere. We get married, we have babies, we see movies. The age-old escapist activity. And there’s nothing like a superhero flick to draw everyone in. The battle between good and evil, drawn in broad strokes. The good guys are the best guys. The bad guys are unequivocally evil and they (almost) never win. We understand them, because they’re not textured or sketched in shades of grey. They’re bad. And they lose. Sometimes they toss out very clever one-liners. And then day is saved!

And then the scenario plays out in real life, and it’s just terrifying. James Holmes thought he was The Joker, or some similar villainous foil to the heroic Batman. He had the whole act: tear gas, red hair, indiscriminate attack on human life, apartment booby-trapped and armed to the teeth. But there is no hero who could have saved those poor people he killed, people who can distinguish between reality and fiction. They weren’t in a movie. And he’s not a super-villain. He’s just a sick, sick man who did an unspeakable thing and deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. And then some. For me, what happened in Aurora makes it difficult to once more find the same joy in escaping to a comic book world where murderers hold entertainment value. I’m not trying to be a prude. I’m not implying that violent films and stories are somehow to blame for Holmes’s actions. Holmes is to blame for his actions, alone. It’s just hard to find the fun in it anymore. Not when we’ve seen the unvarnished, real-life translation in all its raw horror.

And then, in the aftermath, soapbox preachers use this as a lens through which to further their own agendas. Without or perhaps despite any facts, they wasted no time in leaping to cast blame on groups which had no involvement. Helpful, guys. Thanks. Nothing like spewing hatred to help a community heal. We’re supposed to help make sense of the senselessness. Not contribute to it.

So, for today, I give up. Here’s a video of a Doberman losing a fight to a kitten. It made me feel better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QmnODzMToyU.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.