It's hard to know how to react after an event like the horrific massacre in Aurora, Colorado last night. We can send public messages of support and concern for the victims and their friends and family. We can make private pledges to keep those people who were terrorized, injured, or killed in our thoughts. We can advocate for laws that prevent people as horribly lost as 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, whatever their motives and backstories, from getting their hands on powerful weapons. Those are worthwhile things to do, surely, but they can also seem a little inadequate.
For those of us in the media, the question is more complicated still. News outlets, and especially bloggers and commentators, feel that it is their role (if not their professional obligation) to say something relevant about events like this one. Moreover, the something that they say should be new. And if it pleases other media people, and gets passed around and discussed and garners some traffic, that wouldn't hurt. So you have this awkward, stiff-legged rush among the commentariat to find some "angle" on the story as quickly as possible without looking too undignified.
A few of us at GOOD were talking about this tragedy ourselves. Is this an opportunity to make a point about gun violence? Is that petty under the circumstances? Should we try to honor the victims somehow? Should we—can we—try to understand the perpetrator? Should we just stay out of it?
And then we realized this: People need blood.
When you get shot, you bleed, and keeping gunshot victims alive and stable requires that hospitals have adequate supplies of blood on hand. Whether or not they do depends on whether people like you and me, who are healthy and have blood to spare, think to give some up every once in a while.
I don't like needles. I fainted the last time I got blood drawn (and that was just a small amount). I also had plans for a champagne brunch tomorrow. But I'll likely be late for that, if I make it at all, because I plan to go donate blood tomorrow, along with other members of GOOD. We're in Los Angeles. The blood we give won't make it into the veins of the 38 wounded in Aurora, but it'll mean that our communities are just a little better prepared for the next tragedy.
So here's our "angle" for now: If you want to do something meaningful, one way is to schedule an appointment to donate blood, especially if you're near Aurora and have O- or A- blood. There's clear information about how to do that on the American Red Cross website, including a tool that will help you find a place to donate blood locally and information for first-time donors (and tips for overcoming a fear of needles).
Image from one of the wounded, via Reddit