Sunday, November 18, 2018

The space between humanity and insanity

The hot lather hit the back of my neck marking the beginning of the end of my monthly grooming. My barber, Mike, glided the straight razor through the foam, slicing hairs closer than any clippers could. I conjured up retro images of groomers striking blade to strap to sharpen the edge that would clean a week-long growth off the cheeks of hard-working dude, a guy's guy, grabbing a Saturday afternoon shave and cut before his weekly bath. It took steady hands to manipulate the razor without leaving bloody nicks.

Though I sat up a little straighter yesterday, because the conversation at the barbershop had gone to a frightening place. One guy mentioned a friend who slipped into a coma after his girlfriend stabbed him near the clavicle, above his heart. They had been at a party. Another patron, waiting for his trim spoke up as he recalled a couple of college buddies who accidentally got into a "sword fight." Seems one roomie was showing his pirate blade to the other and stabbed him in the side. It was unintentional but the swashbuckler spent a month in jail because he couldn't pay restitution to his roommate for drawing blood.

I couldn't help but recall a kid I met this summer who was stabbed in his neighborhood. He didn't share much about his story except, "I was stabbed yesterday." He had bandages on both arms.

In America's debate about guns, there is one, undeniable truth -- some people are irrationally violent. And firearms are our weapon of choice. According to, in 2017, over 10,000 were shot to death in the U.S. People armed with handguns killed more than 7,000 of those. Compare that to nearly 1,600 who died in stabbings.

My take is, to kill someone with a knife, you have to get close. Razor close. Guns can help make murder impersonal, rapid and very efficient, especially automatic weapons.

There is no doubt that a madman or woman can murder with the even the most primitive objects. Over 460 died from blunt force trauma inflicted with clubs and hammers. Our best bet to stop the mayhem is changing the hearts and minds of those who could step through that hair-splitting space that separates humanity from insanity.

Only love can do that.

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