Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Sunday Reflections: Kalamazoo Shooting

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Folks, it’s Sunday. I try to reflect on Sundays, due to my early religious training, and sometimes my reflections matter more than others.

Today, I’m thinking a lot about the guy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (I won’t name him, as is my policy.) He shot six random people as he was out and about (he’s an Uber driver, and apparently he drove a number of people around safely during his rampage), and no one knows why. Among the six people dead was a mother (her three children, in the back of her car, were unhurt), which seems particularly heinous.

I don’t know what causes people to behave like this. I don’t know how to fix whatever is broken inside them. But we’ve had a number of shootings now that have been almost completely inexplicable, from the Sikh Temple shootings in Oak Creek to the Sandy Hook school shooting to the shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre, much less the bombing at the Boston Marathon a few years ago. Something is going on, something deep-rooted and fundamental, to cause unstable people to snap.

It can’t all be explained away as domestic terrorism, either. And it certainly can’t all be explained away as untreated mental illness, though that might be close to the truth in some cases (certainly in the case of the Aurora shootings).

When I hear about something like this, it’s all I can do not to give in to despair. What is this world coming to? Why does this even happen?

I can’t begin to understand why this guy in Kalamazoo was thinking, and I don’t even want to try. But I wish with all my heart and soul that those six innocent people in Kalamazoo yesterday were still alive, and that this particular Uber driver had never gone on his rampage.

That said, what can we do, in the United States, to combat these types of crimes? Is there anything we can do at all?

I’ve already advocated for better care for the mentally ill, and I stand by that. I’ve also advocated for universal background checks, and I stand by that, too…but I’m guessing neither one of things would’ve prevented this particular shooting from taking place.

What I do know is that somehow, we have to keep a light shining in the darkness. We have to believe that something, anything, can bring hope and peace and a stable, workable future…that something we do, no matter how small, can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

It won’t bring back those six innocent souls, no. But it might bring a smile to someone else’s face who’s having a terrible day, and remind him or her that we all matter, in our own unique ways…and that’s an important thing to reinforce.

In my own life, I try to do that as best I can. I observe what’s going on with other people, and when I can help, I do that.

My friend, fellow author N.N. Light, has a mantra, “Spread the Light.” I think that’s an excellent thing to do, and I hope we can all find ways to do just that in the days ahead.

Finally, folks…when Belgium was threatened with terrorism last year after the Paris attacks, what did those brave people of Belgium do? They sent around cat pictures, dog pictures, or something to make each other laugh. They refused to give in to fear; they refused to allow terrorists to ruin their lives.

I think we must somehow learn from their example, and keep doing our best to make a positive difference in this world. Even if it’s small, even if it seems infinitesimal, it’s the only way to go.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

February 21, 2016 at 6:20 pm

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