The Will to Act

The Will to Act

Early Friday, July 20, 2012, an armed man entered a packed movie theater in Aurora Colorado, released tear gas, and opened fire with several firearms. The midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be the rise of a different kind of dark knight-the dark knight of terror and helplessness.

Many people have asked, “If there had been just one good guy with a gun, how many people would have been saved?”  It merits some thought; how could this tragedy have been lessened if just one person had possessed a gun or even knowledge of self-defense?

There is another angle to this concern. How many people, carrying a weapon, would have acted? How many people would have stood up, taken aim, and fired? How many people did attempt to stop the insanity, regardless of whether or not they had a weapon in hand? We do not know yet, but many brave people were present at this tragedy, but so far one thing seems clear: nobody successfully stopped the murderer in the theater.

We need to understand that, as Americans, we enjoy certain rights and privileges.

The very first rights given to the American people are found in our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Inalienable rights are defined as: “Rights that are impossible to take or give away”. These are rights that every person has a right to, regardless of age, sex, nationality, race or any other distinguishing feature.

The very first right America claimed was the right to life. Every individual born has a right to life, to existence. This is without exception, period. If you are breathing, you have the right to keep breathing.

The second inalienable right is the right to liberty. We know that we have the right to exist. But we also have complete freedom to choose how to do so. We can choose to be adventurous, to travel, to make a difference in the world. Or we can choose to sit around, playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare until our bloated bodies waste away underneath us. That’s our choice, our decision to make.

Now, we may understand the rights aspect of this, but do we understand the duty? Just because we were granted certain rights and privileges by an inspiring piece of paper 200 years ago, doesn’t mean we just automatically get to keep them.

Defending our rights may possibly mean getting a concealed carry permit. It could mean taking a self-defense class or seminar. It could just be simply putting 911 on speed dial number one. If you choose not to have a method to defend your life, you give up the right. You have complete liberty to do so-that’s your choice.

You also give up the right to complain if you, or someone under your protection, are harmed in a crisis because of this choice, and you have to accept that you made that choice. These rights are for you as an individual to take a hold of for yourself.

Many people have enjoyed the intense fight scenes and emotional passages from Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece Dark Knight trilogy. However, many of them seem to have forgotten the most important aspect of these movies: with this privilege comes a responsibility; the responsibility to protect the innocent, those who cannot protect themselves.

The very movie these people were going to see was the story of one man standing up against those who were taking advantage of those who were unable to stand up. How, then, can these same people, inspired by such an example, then stand idly by and do nothing? Is it because Batman has cooler toys? The Tumbler is not what the Dark Knight is about.

It is about one man choosing to act. One of the ways that we keep our rights is taking action when necessary. Just having training is not enough.  The perpetrator had a gun. A good bet would be that other members of the audience owned guns or had some level of self-defense training. Even a man who played high-school football 35 years ago would still remember how to tackle. If an audience member did have a gun, it takes a will-to act and to make a difference. A gun isn’t enough “Training is nothing-the will is everything!”-Batman Begins.

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