WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? (Posted August 1, 2006)
We attended a funeral yesterday. It was not an ordinary funeral, nor was it an ordinary person that we were remembering.
Jennifer Ewing was murdered last week, the victim of a random, unprovoked act of unspeakable violence. Based on everything we heard said about her at the service, we can say with assurance that she was an incredible human being.
A woman of great faith, she used her faith to raise a wonderful family and to reach out to those in need in every corner of the world. All of which makes her ending so very tragic and hard to fathom. She was murdered by someone she did not know and someone who did not know her. Had he only paused to know her, we believe she would have reached out to him, helped and loved him – perhaps even saved him — as she did everyone else.
While there was much caring and compassion among the attendees at yesterday’s service, for the rest of us this daily occurrence just seems so routine, so ordinary. The attitude seems to be “Jennifer is gone and it’s time to get on with our lives”. We rack up one casualty after another and no one seems to care. We seem to be in a hurry – to get back to doing things that are important – buying, shopping, making money.
Does it have to be that way? Should it? Will it happen again? To us? Are the rest of us at risk?
The one thing that should be apparent to everyone who has become aware of this great tragedy is this: if this sort of thing can happen to Jennifer Ewing, it can happen to anyone.
We know a great deal about homicide – our daughter Renée was murdered in 1994 under circumstances similar to those which befell Jennifer Ewing. We have as a consequence learned much about life in America, about the causes of and what it takes to prevent crime.
The reality is that people in this country are in the habit of rationalizing away the potential risk that crime presents to themselves. They view crime as basically “someone else’s problem” They concoct stereotypes – postulating that victims bring it on themselves by living risky lifestyles or engaging in abusive relationships. It becomes easy to “blame the victim” – and if it’s the victim’s fault, that absolves the rest of us from the responsibility of having to do anything about it.
Thus we come to accept the fact of a burgeoning homicide rate in our midst. We tolerate it – 15 to 20 thousand homicides a year in the USA. We live in a city that contributes handsomely to that ever-increasing number, a city that is one of the most violent in the nation. The great contradiction of our time is that we consider ourselves a society that is concerned about the value and sanctity of human life – witness the concern evidenced in the recent stem cell debate over the need to preserve the well-being of a collection of some 8-9 cells in a Petri dish – and yet we are apparently content to allow the wanton slaughter of thousands of innocent human beings each year – every year.
We have a grave concern as to what this says about us as a people. Where is the outrage at this travesty? Have our senses become deadened to the reality? Have we lost our ability to be outraged at what is going on here in the land of the free and home of the brave?
We need to realize that we have a war going on in America. We have been preoccupied with the problem of international terrorism for some time now. But we have a bigger problem with the domestic kind of terrorism – one that consumes 5-7 times the number of victims that were lost on 9/11. And this goes on year after year.
What is needed is a national commitment – just as we have with the war on terrorism – to eliminate the scourge of homicide. And the effort can and should begin right here at the state level. The governors and all responsible officials in the 50 states should put in place a plan — NOW – to end the scourge of homicide once and for all. The plan should establish a goal to reduce homicides in this country to zero by a specific target date. We need to make it clear that we will no longer tolerate homicide – not even one!
But this won’t happen unless we – the people – make it happen. We need to accept the idea that crime is everyone’s problem and everyone must be involved in the solution.
And most of all, we need to insist that our politicians make the commitment that is needed to end this scourge that threatens the very fabric of American society.
The consequences of not doing so are immense. We will thereby be condemning ourselves and our children to lives in a society where, as bad as the crime is today, it can only get worse.
THE BUSH RECORD (Posted June 2, 2006)
We should not be surprised at the Bush administration’s approach to governance. George W. Bush came into office by espousing the notion that government can do no good. He has set out to prove that axiom and, to borrow a phrase, “ is doing a heckuva job”. A few examples: He
-passed a number of tax cuts and the federal budget went from a $5T. projected surplus to a nearly $5T. deficit;
-passed an energy bill and gas went up to $3. per gallon;
-reorganized FEMA, put a political crony in charge and we got Katrina;
-is attempting to solve the immigration problem by offering amnesty to a bunch of criminals;
And the list goes on. One wonders how much incompetence the American public is willing to tolerate.
The Bush record is clear – and makes the point that it’s time for a change in Washington.