My husband and I witnessed a shooting last Tuesday evening at dusk. We had just begun a nice stroll in the spring weather.
Then we heard more than a dozen rapid gunshots. We saw gunfire that was bright orange and star shaped, like in comic strips. Cars stopped driving; a group of people took off running. After momentary paralysis, we briskly walked home, hopeful that nobody had died.
To witness something alarming is to be forced to decide what to do about it: Stand and watch, or turn and run? Contact the police, or let someone else call 911? Decide to be afraid, outraged? Or ignore (again) the danger because I was not the target?
A year after buying our house, we found a fully loaded handgun stashed under a bush. Last year, my teenage nephew was robbed at gunpoint on the street. When a policeman jumped out of his car this winter and threw his gun into the face of a kid (13 years old, we guessed) who’d fled from a vehicle in front of M&M Bakery & Deli, the rest of us watched through the window with our sandwiches in hand, then went about our business. But I could go on and on.
I’ll admit I’m mentally desensitized. Intellectually I’m perplexed. Emotionally I’m tormented. We walk and live among violence, guns and danger, and no matter which side of the street, window or racial dividing line we’re on, we’re all in this together — or should be.
If we claim to care about life, others’ as well as our own, we have to find ways to improve equality, opportunity, education, safety, affordable housing, respect, love. Does anyone have any new ideas? Respect life. Put down the guns.