Waking Up to Another (and Another) Death in America

From 1992’s Unforgiven.*

It was a week of bullets.

Like last week. Like last year. Like last decade. And the decade before that. Like when a Democrat was president. Like when a Republican was president.

A person about my age,

In his sixties, on the playing fields of youth,

On a bright blue early morning in Virginia,

Started shooting.

And shooting. Were the early reports really true? Was the man with two guns and hundreds of bullets targeting Republicans serving in Congress?

The bright blue bruise of a day had just begun, for on the west coast a solitary man in a UPS uniform entered his former employers in San Francisco and opened fire. He shot and killed three. Wounded two. And then he squeezed the trigger one last time. He won’t be answering any questions about why he took this gruesome action.

Two lone men. Right coast. Left coast. Two “mass shootings.”

And yet not alone.

For no reason other than seeking a city that infrequently makes the national media—and a city I’ve visited—I searched the news about Albuquerque, New Mexico. On June 5, I learned that two men had been shot. Another “mass shooting”—meaning multiple victims. But I could’ve found others wounded or killed elsewhere. In the last 72 hours (I started these words on June 16, 2017), there were 29 mass shootings in America. Continue reading →

The Kid Aimed . . .

Matthew 5:1-12  – The Fourth Sunday following Epiphany – for Sunday, February 2, 2014

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God . . .” (Matthew 5:9)

kid with gunDriving home. Weary. The day’s work was done.

On the sidewalk to my right, a few blocks from home, a woman fussed with a baby in a stroller. There was a second kid beside her. I would guess he was four. I also guessed, in the split-second impressions humans collect through glances, the gray-haired woman was their grandmother. When I might’ve normally looked elsewhere, to scan for oncoming traffic or check the rearview mirror, the four-year old startled me with his next action.

As the grandmother leaned into the stroller, maybe adjusting a blanket, the kid raised an object toward me.

A gun.

The kid aimed at my head. As I drove by, the barrel of his plastic, neon-orange toy rifle tracked the speed of my slow-moving car.

The day before I had read Jesus’ beatitudes, each one like a trumpet declaring the deepest truths of truest faith. About the poor in spirit, about those who mourn, about the meek, and including . . .

 Blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus taught, for they will be called children of God.

Nothing I will write in the next sentences will matter. Whatever I write, however poorly or brilliantly my thoughts are phrased, and whoever reads my words, nothing will make a difference.

Why? Continue reading →