Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thoughts on the Day after an Early Morning Shooting at a Baseball Field

At some point, will I wonder why I'm not writing more about current events?  Will we look back to see 2017 as a pivotal year, much the way that 1968 or 1974 were pivotal years?

In fact, yesterday I wondered if this year was more like 1967, a year before a pivotal year.  One of my colleagues posited we're at 1970, with innocent people being gunned down (Congressional ball teams yesterday, Kent State students in 1970).

Yesterday I headed out to find a better deal on Styrofoam cups--our campus goes through an amazing amount of them every week, and I'm the one with the credit card for the campus.  I happened to be on the road when Trump spoke about the shooting, and I was somewhat impressed.  I thought his speech was a good speech--for him.  He's like the student who usually hands in such bad work that when you get mediocre work, you might be overly impressed.  When I say "you," of course I mean me.

I was less impressed with some first year Congresspeople who got bogged down in a gun control disagreement when interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered in the afternoon.  And on TV, I watched various Congresspeople vow to work together to end partisanship--and I had the uncharitable thought that it was too bad that it took a horrific shooting on an early morning baseball field to get these people to do their basic jobs.

But let me not get bogged down in negative stuff.  Let me return to a scene a few days ago, in a gas station in Georgia, when I remembered again how much I love this country.

I was gassing up my car, and I saw a group of guys in crisp, white shirts and pressed long pants.  They had fairly short haircuts, and I thought, are you guys trying to look like Mormons?

And then I caught site of the name tag of one of them--why yes, they were trying to look like Mormons, because they are Mormons.  They were trying to put exactly $40 worth of gas into their SUV, which I assumed was rented, but I don't know why I would assume that.  They were so happy when they achieved their goal.

I looked around the gas station that was a mile away from I 95, one of the nation's main vehicle arteries, and thought about what an interesting group of people had assembled.  There was me, a woman solidly in midlife, with the music of monks in my head.  There was the group of young, Mormon men.  There was a pick up truck--not the super expensive kind, but a regular one, with a fishing boat in the back (once we called them john boats--they're the kind made out of metal, painted green, like a wider, shorter canoe).  Most of us were non-descript:  the middle-aged black guy (bigger, but not obese, but not muscular either) coming back to his car with a super big drink, the woman in polyester shorts filling up her non-descript sedan car. 

Here we all were in southern Georgia, a part of the country where not too long ago we'd have made efforts not to need gas so that we wouldn't encounter ugliness.  Think of how many of us might be at risk:  the Mormons, the women travelling alone, the black guy.  Yet here we were, peacefully travelling along the road, gassing up our cars, and as long as it's daylight, we're all relatively safe.  And even after dark, we're likely to be safe.

Let me remember that fact, on the day after Congresspeople were shot as they practiced for a baseball game in the early morning hours.  These events are still rare.  Let me offer up this prayer that they continue to be rare, that on almost every morning, we can all put fuel in our cars or show up for baseball practice, with the relative assurance that we will not be attacked.  And let me also offer up a prayer for our fellow humans who live in much more dangerous settings, who don't have that assurance.

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