And now it’s happened where I live. On April 15, a man sprayed gunfire in the FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport. So far, eight are dead. Others were injured. The suspected gunman is dead, presumably by suicide.
If he were ready to die, why didn’t he just do it to himself in his bedroom and leave others alone?
Hey, I don’t want anyone to die, and I surely don’t want anyone to kill himself. I want everyone to reach out and get the help they need, so they might be healthy and happy and productive. However, when the options are one person dies without taking the lives of others, without causing great anguish to the loved ones of those he killed, without placing a city into turmoil and our nation once again shaking its fists as it does nothing but argue about it, I’ll vote for suicide every time.
I want to know where the man got permission to take the lives of others, to throw into turmoil and grief the loved ones of those killed and injured, to put the citizens of yet another American city in fear of their safety when at work or play or shopping or worship?
I always want to know who gives these gunmen permission to carry out their despicable acts. How does that conversation take place in one’s mind? How long does it percolate? What arguments against it are defeated until the man finally says, “Game on!”
What has gotten into us Americans, that we have such a lofty level of privilege, which gives us the ability to say to ourselves, “They pissed this guy off one too many times. I’ll teach them!”?
How do people fall so far in their regard for human life that they can reach the decision to kill people? To play prosecutor and jury and judge, and deem others guilty so as to end their lives? To leave their homes and enter their workplace, or a store, or a place of worship, or wherever, and open fire against their fellow human beings?
How would these killers react if it were their child, their spouse, their parent gunned down for nothing more than being in the line of fire? Can you imagine them thinking, “It was the gunman’s right to open fire. My loved one deserved it. They should have watched their back”?
They would think none of those things. Indeed, the type of person to find it in himself to have permission to gun down others is likely the same person screaming at the top of his lungs before the TV cameras if it were to happen to his loved one.
Mass shootings get our attention, but homicides are going on all around us—all around my own home—all the time. In the first three months of 2021, Indianapolis has seen 59 people die by homicide. That’s an average of two every three days.
When I visit the Indy Star website every morning, I don’t wonder whether I’ll see news of the latest homicide, I expect it. I look for it. Then, I look for this word—northeast—because that’s where I live. And, when I see northeast, I look for the address.
In the six years we’ve lived on the northeast side, I’ve lost track of how many homicides have occurred within the area in which I go jogging, which is roughly two miles to the east and west, one mile south, and a mile and a half north. I often run by the apartment complex on Emerson Avenue where a double-homicide took place last year, and the apartments on Arlington Avenue where one occurred this year. And I’ve hesitated returning to the block, on the furthest reaches to the east of where I run, because of the killing that happened in a house last summer.
And then there is the nearest one: at the gas station I sometimes frequent and jog by most days, two blocks south of our house. Yes, the killing happened at night, as do most. During the day, it feels safe. It’s always quiet.
I bet it was quiet and it felt safe at the FedEx facility the night of April 15.
One assumes the homicides that happen in our neighborhoods are mostly among people who know each other. There’s a disagreement over something, a family issue, friends in dispute. An argument ensues. Someone pulls out a gun.
When it happens at work and in public places, it’s generally intentional: someone pulls out a gun they brought for this purpose.
Either way: someone pulls out a gun.
That’s the answer for too many people: pull out a gun.
What happened to kill them with kindness?
What possesses Americans to believe that violence and homicide are the better way to go?
I know, I know, it’s only a tiny fraction of the population doing these things. Yet, it’s a significant fraction they directly affect, directly harm, directly traumatize. And, it’s our entire country that’s driven again to anguish, to wringing our collective hands.
To arguing over what to do and then not doing a thing.
There is one thing we can do. One huge thing. Let’s teach our children to respect all people—to respect the rights and lives of all people—and let’s begin by showing our children how it’s done.
I’d like to see anyone shoot down that plan.