How could I not write about it. It has been on my mind since it happened.
June 12th, 2016 – forty-nine people lost their lives. Fifty-three individuals were injured, are certainly still injured. Hundreds of parents, spouses, children, and family members are still distraught, in shock, mourning, grappling with loss and change. Thousands of friends and acquaintances are reaching out, hoping that they can in some small ways be helpful. And I, along with the rest of the United States, am wondering what is my role. . . what should I do.
And like the rest of the world, I agonize over this type of senseless violence. Orlando, Brussels, Paris, Boston, and now I add Istanbul – and these are just the ones that readily come to mind – not all of them. Gun violence, and bomb violence, and terrorism, and death and more death. It just seems endless.
In this particular area, I feel like I am falling into a great, giant abyss – tumbling downward, with nothing to latch onto to help me stop. It just seems so far beyond my control, I have no tangible, workable, magical solutions to offer. I believe myself to be a learned person with the desire to end the violence, and the willingness to put in the effort to do so, but I have no clue as to what I can do – that will be effective.
As is an American tradition, there are folks out in the big world who are suggesting that we more emphatically implement the old policies, or create new and improved policies, or throw out all existing policies and start again. I watched the federally elected in our country hold a sit-in as they fought to figure out what to do. I have heard calls for more, as well as for less, gun legislation, for more, as well as for less, immigration policy, for more conservative as well as more liberal solutions.
My heart is fine with any of those choices. Whatever works best, just do it. I don’t care how we approach this issue; I just want it solved to the best of our ability. I want a solution that reduces violence and injury and death. I am for every solution that does and against anything that does not.
My head, however, is telling me that there might not be a solution. My head is telling me that while we solve the criminal challenges that are in front of us, there are new groups that are part of the evil empire that are waiting in the wings with more giant, terrible acts. My head hurts just thinking about the absolute quandary that exists. Who are these people and how do we abate the evil that they create?
Over this year’s July 4th holiday, which this year in the Midwest can only be described as time off to watch it rain like no other, I had the opportunity to watch a documentary on the history of the United States – the American Revolution, the Westward Expansion, the Civil War, and on and on and on, all the way to present time.
I think I learned something interesting, something that may be able to shed some light for me as I tumble down in that dark abyss. What I learned may not be the great solution to this problem. And what I learned isn’t some extraordinary AHA type moment. It is small and rather inconsequential, but for me it was a bit powerful. I am not sure if it will be helpful to anyone else other than me, but I am willing to share it none-the-less. It is something universal and something that I hadn’t thought about in quite some time – and certainly not to the extent that I have pondered about it right now. It is positive and it is a great fallback position to consider when everything else is failing.
We Americans . . . we are a resilient bunch.
Centuries ago, folks fought and gave their lives for independence. Whatever truths we held to be self-evident, they came with a price. Great people, good people died. Innocent people, unsuspecting people died.
Centuries ago, the United States fought the United States, not for independence, but for unity, and human rights, and people died. In fact, more people died in the Civil War than any other US moment in time. It was a time of great loss with battle after battle after battle.
Before my time, folks fought in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. My experience includes the Vietnam War and everything that has transpired since, including September 11th – a day of infamy for me. Whether a war or a random act of violence, people have died.
Yet our country survives.
We are an amazing and stunningly resilient bunch. We could close up shop, give up, and become a lawless, crime-ridden society. Some countries have. We could stop our quest for goodness and justice, and opt for something with less effort. We could choose to walk on the wrong side.
But, we don’t.
We carry on. We battle each other on who should be in charge of our country. We fight over which solution has the most potential – even if all of the solutions are on the weak side. We are emphatic about our teams and dig in when considering compromising with each other. We chastise each other’s philosophies and spend too much time and money duking out who is best fit to lead.
And it finally has dawned on me that there is something that I should be doing, that is expected of me, that does help when facing tragedies like Orlando, a daily part for me. Though that circumstance occurred miles and miles away from me and I lost no relative, friend, or acquaintance, it is imperative for me to carry-on, to support the idea of a shared American identity, to remain faithful to the elimination of evil at all turns, and to dedicate my time and energy to those issues, ideas, and paths that generate the growth of all that is good, even if I am just sitting in the bleachers seats, watching the action from far, far away.
Resiliency is my heritage. It is what has preceded me, what needs to follow me, and as an American, what is expected of me.
And America, count me in!
July 4th, 2016 Fireworks