So, what do you make of it all?
Amidst a raucous crowd of nearly 600 runners — and probably just as many spectators — a couple of Saturday nights ago at the start of a race at Highlands Brewing in Asheville, I noticed quite a few people with phones taking videos.
And before I could tell myself not to go there, before I could steel myself so as not to give in to the state of paranoia that I suspect many are feeling, my mind ran away to the cell phone video of the St. Paul shooting victim by his girlfriend, to the cell phone videos of the protestors fleeing for their lives in Dallas after a gunman opened up on police, to the flood of mass shootings and police assassinations, and then I was scanning the ground around me for unattended bags, found myself eyeing spectators for anyone who seemed out of place and not into the party-like atmosphere of the moment.
I don’t know what to tell my children, so I don’t tell them anything. Not yet anyway. It is the first day of summer vacation, and therefore, the mood in our home is one of revelry. The alarm clocks are off, the swimsuits are airing out on the railing of the deck, and the pancakes are whimsically sprinkled with chocolate chips, in the manner of a big, crooked smile. I don’t know what to tell them, so I don’t tell them anything.
The world is filled with love. The world is filled with rage. The world is filled with hatred. How can all of this be true? How can it be reconciled? How can it even be understood? Another mass shooting, this time in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Fifty people dead. Another young, male killer, and everyone trying, as usual, to assemble pieces of his life into a picture that will explain it, why he chose to go into a nightclub just around last call and start shooting until fifty people were dead. Maybe he had ties to ISIS? Maybe he was homophobic? Maybe he had a history of mental instability?
When terrorism strikes like it did this weekend in Paris, the first reaction to the horror is shock from the utter senselessness of intentional violence against innocent people. Most of us don’t understand how anyone could do something so innately evil.
But then, as the dozens of news reports and politicizing of the tragedy wash over me, I begin to worry. Not about further terrorist attacks — which we all know are coming and unfortunately are part of the world in which we live — but for the coming epidemic of ignorance, grandstanding and bellicose chest thumping.
As the manhunt ends, the nation begins to cope and the primary suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing either lay dead or in custody, Dr. Allan Panter, a Sylva emergency room doctor who visited Boston for the race, is still reliving — in vivid detail — the brutal events of that day.