(Editor’s note: While Don is out, please enjoy this guest editorial)
The horrendous shooting of 12 innocent people at a country music bar in Twin Oaks California reminds us that no place in America is safe. If we thought there were some safe sacred zones in our country then we should ask the people in Pittsburgh. In particular, ask the people of the Tree of Life Synagogue in the community of Squirrel Hill where eleven people were murdered and six others wounded during a sacred hour of worship.
Last week in Martin County, Kentucky, a woman shot her sleeping husband in his bed in the early morning hours. She then called a friend and told her that she was going to end her own life as well. She told her friend about their life stresses, consisting primarily of health issues and medical bills, and that she felt they could not overcome them. By the time her friend and others got there she was dead along with her husband.
What makes a Marine Veteran decide to exterminate the lives of innocent people out for a night of dancing and fun in California? What gets into the mind of a man that causes him to wreak evil in the midst of a sacred place of worship? What happens to a woman who becomes so down that she sees the only way out of her misery is murder and suicide? Why did she feel like she had the right to take her husband’s life?
In general, Americans have gone crazy in recent elections. If you want to alienate your friends on social media, then take a stand on either side of the political spectrum. State your opinion about how much you love the Democrats or the Republicans and soon you’ll have fewer friends who probably weren’t your friends to begin with anyway.
Americans have been marching for a long time. Dr. Martin Luther King taught us how to peacefully protest. He demonstrated how to march and stand up for what is right. He had class. He wasn’t perfect but he was a man to whom we need to look for how to conduct ourselves when it comes to going against injustices.
Most Americans just want the simple things of life. We want to live out our lives in peace. We would like to work our jobs, raise our families, save a little money and occasionally be able to buy a car and pay for a home. Most Americans dream of retirement and doing things like gardening, fishing, traveling a little or just having a life free of the big hassles, at least for awhile. We would like to be able to go the doctor when we need to and not feel that we will have to second mortgage our house to pay the bill.
Overall, today’s Americans don’t feel that anything is simple anymore. Too much on television is no longer entertaining but is filled with intensity; murder stories that are sadly true, gruesome violence and more bad news. Cable news and other networks have a “side” they have taken and all of their reporting is constantly pushing their side. Pushing their side unfortunately means bashing every element of the other side with anything that is dirty, negative or just an outright lie. Thus, most Americans are sick of elections and election commercials. We are sick of robo calls and email boxes stuffed with financial solicitations to support candidates. Who wants to see a national news reporter wrestling a young intern for a microphone in the press room of the White House and totally disrespecting the President of the United States?
We know the next two years will be nothing now but campaigning for the next Presidential election together with all the rancor, hostility, violence, uncivil marches and crude rhetoric that will accompany the upcoming election.
Are we beyond crazy in America? Look to a supposedly safe dancing country music bar in Twin Oaks California. Look to a quaint neighborhood and a respectable synagogue in Pittsburgh, or a remote trailer in Martin County, Kentucky and we have to acknowledge that there is serious mental illness across our country. Look at how people conduct themselves today on social media. It’s like there are no restraints on language or demeanor barriers toward others. The highways are filled with people who are ready to run you off the road or at least show you their middle finger.
Sadly, all you have to do to experience America’s craziness is to go to a public school, house of worship, a music joint or sleep in your own bed. Most often you don’t have to do anything at all because evil and mental illness can show up right in your face.
What can we do? Live cautiously. Know where the exit doors are everywhere you go. We must utilize security from churches to bars to schools and our homes. Every American should be required to pass a screening test at the local health department before being issued a permit to own a firearm. People with PTSD problems and other people who have already been verified as having mental issues don’t need to be walking the streets with guns.
Most Americans just want a safe, sane and peaceful life. However, overall we’re beyond crazy in this country and sadly we are way beyond trying to really do something to resolve and protect our people.