February 28 -- Chicago -- 3 dead
March 11 -- Atlanta -- 4 dead
March 12 -- Wisconsin -- 8 dead
The land of equal opportunity? Absolutely. You have an equal opportunity to get senselessly blown away at church, in court or at home. The home of the free and the brave? It's difficult to be free or brave when you are diving under a chair in an attempt to save your life.
I watched some of the coverage of the Atlanta slayings on CNN. On Friday evening, the news anchor, Nancy Grace, was having obvious difficulty maintaining her composure throughout what must have an agonizing broadcast. It was evident that she knew some of the victims, and after reading her online bio, it was clear that this story must have brought back some horrifying personal memories. Her hurt and her anger were palpable.
On Sunday evening, I watched the press conference of Ashley Smith, the young woman who was taken hostage by the gunman and who spoke with him for over seven hours. Her courage and calm in the face of obvious terror was astounding. She spoke for over twenty minutes (transcript here), recalling plainly the events that transpired. She occasionally spoke of herself and her fear, but more often than not, she was focused on her abductor, what he did, and what he said.
How did this young woman -- a mother of a five year old daughter, and a widow whose husband was stabbed four years earlier -- find the strength and compassion to set all those real hurts and fears aside and recognize hope in the hopeless?
I really didn't keep track of time too much because I was really worried about just living. I didn't want to die. I didn't want him to hurt anybody else. And I really didn't want him to hurt himself or anyone else to hurt him. He's done enough -- he had done enough. And he really, honestly when I looked at him, he looked like he didn't want to do it anymore.No talk of monsters. No talk of evil. No talk of hatred. Despite the undeniable and horrible fact that four people were randomly, senselessly slaughtered, she was able to tell him that she didn't want him to hurt himself. He had a purpose. He let her go see her daughter, and when she left, she immediately called 911 and turned him in. He knew she would do it.
But nobody else go hurt.
And that is a miracle.
Today there is talk of anger, sorrow and loss. Tomorrow there will be talk of justice and punishment. Each has their rightful place, and each deserves to be heard. All I can wish is that at the beginning and ending of every day, we as a people can recognize and believe in the hope that lays within each and every one of us.
Then maybe nobody else would get hurt.
And that would be a miracle.