After the recent election, I vowed not to join the ranks of those who preach gloom, doom, and the end of America as we know it. Yet two national happenings really disturb me tonight. They are not directly related to the election, but eventually they are.
The first is the terrorist at Ohio State. Call me a bleeding heart, but to my mind he was a miserably unhappy soul, displaced, probably facing academic and social pressure. And he lost it. No sane person does what he did. News reports called him a shooter, but as far as I have heard no gun was involved—a knife and a car are lethal enough. Spouting anger at the U.S. for what our country has done in the Middle East, he was the perfect recruit for ISIS. Doesn’t sound like they got to him yet, but they would have. May he rest in peace that he couldn’t find here, may his family learn to live with this tragedy, and may his victims recover without many scars, either physical or emotional.
Most terrorism and mass shootings in this country are not done by Muslims, but the perception persists that Muslim terrorists are responsible for all violence. There is the occasional disaffected one—the Boston marathon bomb detonators, for instance. But we can’t blame terrorism on Muslims alone. And maybe it’s time, as a lot of the country has said, to re-examine the Middle Eastern policies put in play by Bush and Cheney. Certainly it’s time to study gun control, but I’m not hopeful about that.
On a personal note, I have a granddaughter headed to college next fall. Statistically she’s safe—but you can’t help but think that yesterday’s victims probably also felt safe. As soon as that thought went through my mind, I realized that I have a twinge of fear sending off the elementary school children. Jacob goes to school across the street from my house. One day I came home to see fire trucks at the school—of course, it was nothing except it caused a wave of fear to go through me.
The other event that I can barely watch on TV is the fires in the area of Gatlinburg TN. I have only been to Gatlinburg once years ago and my memory is clouded but I recall it as a touristy town with slow-moving traffic. We bought a wonderful heavy pottery dinner service and I used it for years—I think my brother now has it. On the way across the mountain, it was single-lane, one-way traffic—a long, slow ride—and of course one of my children developed an urgent need for the potty. My dad drove stoically, eyes ahead, without comment, while I tried to placate the child. The other thing I remember is a black bear mama and two cub prowling through garbage at a shelter turnoff; a woman with a young child got out to show the child the bears—as far as I know it didn’t turn out the other way, but how dumb cab some people be?
So I have no wonderful memories of Gatlinburg, but my folks retired to Tryon, North Carolina, the other side of the mountains, and we all loved that area.. I checked Tryon today and they had heavy smoke drifting in from fire in western North Carolina--the Highlands—but no immediate threat of flames. Watching the flames eat brush, trees, and houses in Gatlinburg was devastating—I don’t think I could stand to see Tryon go up in flames.
And of course here I differ dramatically with climate change deniers. I think the dramatic changes in our weather patterns speak to the urgency of that problem…and here again I have little immediate hope.
And there you have it—two tragic instances in the last two days that speak to larger threats facing our country. No, they won’t be addressed in the next session, but I still have hope for the future. Join me in praying for America.