How does one combat senseless violence? Be better tomorrow

Pardon me, but I have something to say tonight…

If there is one thing I can’t wrap my head around during my 36+ years on this Earth, it is what compels someone to take a kid’s life. I just don’t understand it. It’s a complex theory that I can’t make out.

Madness. A mixed up mind. Bad wiring. Upbringing. Whatever. Nothing at the beginning of the sentence brings me to a rightful end with a young child losing their life.

In case you slept in today or were prepping for New Year’s Eve, I’ll point out that there was a quadruple homicide in St. Charles today. A 39-year-old mother, 61-year-old grandmother, and two kids (8 and 10), were killed by one man with a gun. Someone they let into their lives. I won’t give out names, because I may start punching my computer screen and pulling out the keyboard pieces. Let’s just say I knew part of this family and they were good people.

Tomorrow, they won’t be around. They made it to midnight on Dec. 29, 2018, but will not make it to second-to-last day of the year. They are gone. No motive or explanation. Nothing to make people sleep at night. Outside of the family, which is wrecked beyond belief, this tragedy extends to many circles. The kids who went to school with the deceased kids. The cops, detectives, EMS, and various crews who had to walk into that house. All of them are damaged…forever. I don’t care how tough you are, but there’s a part of every human being that can’t handle that sight. Well, most humans I guess.

I’m writing about this because I am currently beside myself. One could say go hug your family and be with them. Well, I can and will do that, but I need to write about it too. You see, that’s what I do. This is my therapy..the thing that will allow me to get up tomorrow and put on a straight face. It’ll allow me to operate. It’s why I started writing in the first place, nearly 20 years ago. A fun way to break things down in my head at my own pace.

I don’t know what makes someone shoot a kid. This isn’t undercutting the loss of adult life, but it’s something else to point a gun at a kid and squeeze the trigger. I just can’t get over that. In a press conference, the police chief said it was six homicides in one week. During the week of Christmas, a time of giving and love-exchanging, people are killing each other. Senseless violence spreading like a disease.

If I looked up how many homicide deaths there were in 2018, I’d be horrified. If I looked up how many kids under the age of ten years were killed, I’d become Liam Neeson in Taken 4: South City Justice. The number would confirm that no matter how much I love my city, there is a violent streak tearing through it. I don’t know how other cities, outside of a part of Arkansas, operate. I don’t know the specificity of their death toll. Here, it’s slammed into my face every single day. One dead. Two dead. Three dead. Four dead. You rise and shine with coffee, sunshine, and bad news in St. Louis. Like it or not, it’s true.

The part of St. Charles where the shootings occurred was known to be a safe haven. A good neighborhood. Suddenly, it wasn’t on Saturday morning, and may never be again. Something is scarred into that street now. People won’t stop talking about it for months.

The instant reaction from a tragedy involving guns will be predictable: take away the guns. Wrong. That doesn’t work. You can’t impinge the freedom of human beings due to the acts of others. A gun can be used to harm or protect, and I don’t think my brother-in-law should have to turn over his guns because one man committed this crime. You can rewrite gun laws, but you can’t take them away. It just doesn’t work. Keep in mind that there was a gun battle with the murderer this morning, and he was wounded badly enough to make him hole himself up in a gas station, where he was eventually arrested. Guns were used in the name of good and bad.

The second reaction is mental illness. It sounds good, stirs the heart and mind, but how do you go after that? How do you diagnose human behavior and its eccentricities any further than where it is at? The idea is solid, but the action and practice isn’t as easy. What’s your first course of action? People can disguise their mental illness or unhinged behavior rather well, and where you start stepping on people’s rights? I like it, but it’s not easy.

The third reaction is seek out political affiliations of the commenting parties on Facebook and Twitter, and attack them for being liberal or conservative…because at the end of the day, someone’s politics is the genesis of the a terrible crime and how to fix it??? Right? Wrong. Very wrong. Forget the politics. This has nothing to do with parties or bills..just a disease that is unstoppable.

Personally, I think we are doomed. If we can’t stop killing each other, nothing will improve. You can scattershot ideas and brainstorm them into reality, but at the end of the day, heads will shake and nothing will change. Funerals will become more common than birthdays around you, sadness will be common, and optimism will dwindle. I wish I could sit here and write something different, but my nonsense delete button will scrap it. None of us are making it out of here alive, but every day is a chance to appreciate things more.

Here’s what we can do. Go home and hug your kids. Loved ones. Family. Friends. Smile and say it will be alright. Repeat it like a relentless mantra. Something that could stick if enough people believe in it. I think that’s what we have to do instead of jump to conclusions, devise new gun laws, and try to act like we have all the answers. We don’t have the answers or the power to change them. As shook up as you are, will you be out tomorrow campaigning for change in local political office or state Senate? Probably not. Lives are there to be lived, bills need to be paid, and your kids need reassuring.

As a friend of mine and fellow Dan posted on his Facebook page this evening, people are terrible. I want to throw up. He’s right. There are terrible people out there who wake up with the urge to take life and it will make you throw up. Through it all, I am going to do my best to keep an optimistic face on and be present for my family and friends. I will do this because it has to be done. That’s how you honor the dead. You live.

Quietly, though, I will have doubt. Lots of it. I can’t help but think about a day where I could leave my house and not come home. I’ll think the same about my wife, dad, brother, aunt, uncle, and good friends. I’ll wonder if I can protect my son forever. It’s impossible to live life without accumulating doubt, especially in this modern world.

If I had some powerful message to end this rant with, I’d fire it up here. But I don’t, so I’ll just advise and provide a simple plan. Wake up tomorrow and be better. Tell someone else to be. Keep your eyes open for possible danger with your friends and family. If something seems out of place, don’t be afraid to say something. The St. Charles prosecuting attorney made a point today to say to be aware of your surroundings at all times, meaning if a loved one is in possible danger or something doesn’t seem right, tell someone.

We all have voices and abilities. Let’s use them to the best of our ability.

When I am mad as hell and can’t take it anymore, I remember something Martin Luther King Jr. said. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Let’s follow Martin’s lead. Let’s try to follow his lead again. Let’s drive dark and hate the fuck out of here!

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