Sunday, December 9, 2018

Right place. Wrong time.

In America's most dangerous communities, one step recommended for at-risk youth is to avoid social media. For example, some have been shot and even killed for their Facebook posts. Seems it's just as important to carefully choose your virtual friends as those you run with in the real world. When soldiers  die or suffer wounds because they're accidentally shot by one of their brothers, we call it "friendly fire."

Then there are those gunned down due to mistaken identify. The tragic loss of life occurs because a careless attacker fired senselessly. Some say the death toll would be much higher if young shooters were better marksmen.

The stories of random gunfire are all too common on U.S. streets and we cluck our tongues at the obvious insanity. Yet, truth be told, Americans have long been dodging long-distance assaults.

I remember the true story of labor leader, Walter P. Reuther, who in 1948 survived a shotgun blast in his own home. He was in his kitchen with his wife, when pellets burst through the window. Four lodged in his arm, one in his chest. Other stories I've heard involved angry business owners who shot up the competition's shop or a union hall because they felt unfairly targeted. The purpose was only to send a message, they allegedly said. But what if someone had been in the right place at the wrong time?

Whether the assault is a volley of commentary via electronic bursts in cyberspace or rounds fired from many feet away, the distance between attacker and the attacked allows us to shoot aimlessly.

We can debate the effectiveness of gun control in the effort to reduce violence. But without a change in our trigger-happy, vindictive natures, we will continue to count the dead and wounded, without knowing the lives that we've lost.

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