Why does such madness persist?
Seven summers ago, my wife, Shirley, and I surprised ourselves and spent a delightful weekend in Las Vegas visiting a treasured friend, Jim, a transplant from Pennsylvania living in Central America.
Early in our marriage, we concurred that "Vegas" held little interest and that the likelihood of our visiting the Strip on the floor of the Mojave Desert was as remote as attending a Lenny Bruce revival tent meeting.
Jim broke our four-decade resolve by telling us he would be attending a convention in this storied town and that he would be pleased if we would join him.
Weeks later, we found ourselves greeting Jim at the Mandalay Bay Resort, where he was staying. Jim, no stranger to Las Vegas, was a stellar host, whose enthusiasm for this nonstop pulsating neon-bathed metropolis, catering to every conceivable taste, was compelling.
Our hotel, the Four Seasons, two stories above the Mandalay Bay Resort, afforded us ample opportunity to become familiar with Mandalay's kaleidoscopic offerings. If there was a spot in our country that defines blazing fantasy and frivolity bathed in the sounds of music suited to every palette, it is Las Vegas.
Today, less than a fortnight after the deadliest mass shooting in contemporary American history, shock and sorrow have replaced jollity in the town and country.
I join the millions who are grappling with the questions - why does such madness persist and what's to be done to repair what's broken in our land?
Could breed more tragic events
Recently a man at the Mandalay Bay Hotel fired into a crowded music festival. It was a tragedy that has left a country looking for answers. Those answers were less about the motive and more a character study of whom the shooter was.
The media have focused on what he did for a living, his family, and his neighbors-all important pieces to the puzzle. However, the depth of how far they have gone into his personal life is unsettling to say the least. The American people most likely do not need to know about his relationship or his childhood home, yet so much time was spent on these topics. It is understandable that an authority needed to speak with his current girlfriend, what is confusing is the amount of attention she has drawn; the public now knows her personal history as well. This type of coverage could breed more tragic events in this country.
An individual who has a mental illness may see the level of coverage given the man, rather than the victims, and then all they would need to do is plan their own "event". For those individuals this is very enticing, because one act can get them primetime coverage, where for a time, they will be the most important person in America.
Protesters are the true patriots
If you are driving or walking down a street and happen upon a group of protesters, I am asking that you issue a friendly wave, a honk of your horn or a statement of appreciation. Look them in the eye and say thank you. Talk to them, ask them why they are there. What in the world would possess a person to come out of their comfort zone, you may be asking. If it makes you uncomfortable and you feel the need to try to ignore their existence, or worse, hurl obscenities at them, try to put yourself in their shoes.
Of course, it would be easier to think to yourself that a certain situation in our world is sad and offer your silent hopes and prayers that it will change. I think every one of these protesters would prefer to stay within their comfort zones. I think every one of them have responsibilities to their families and their careers.
Do you know why they are there?
The simple reason is they possess a fire in their consciences. A fire so deep and enduring that they cannot ignore the call to do something. They are fighting for the equality of minorities, immigrants, women or the LGBTQ. They are fighting for basic American rights, such as health care and education. They are fighting for our schools and for our libraries. They are fighting for our natural resources. They are fighting for the end of nuclear wars and homelessness and gun control. They are there because someone must speak out for our human race. They are true patriots.
The next time a NFL player kneels. Applaud.
When people swarm the halls of Congress while pleading for health care. Applaud.
When people stand up against white supremacists face to face. Applaud.
When you know there is an injustice in your community and there are people willing to take a stand. Applaud.
Applaud our media, our teachers and our police officers. Applaud everyone who has the guts to stand for your rights.
A point is being missed
In this past Sunday's paper, I noticed growing frustration over players, coaches and even owners taking a knee during the national anthem before the NFL games. To those who are angry with the continued protests, I think there is a point being missed. These players are not protesting the flag or what it stands for. They are not protesting our troops. They are not even protesting the anthem. It's a protest for the racism and unnecessary police violence toward the African-American community when this is supposed to be the greatest country on earth. It's a protest for Philando Castile, Charles Kinsey, Jordan Edwards, and for all the black males who were unarmed, but still shot and killed. It's a protest for the fact that neo-Nazis paraded the streets of Charlottesville and it took days for the president to "denounce" them.
Instead of telling NFL players how they should protest, maybe we should just stop and listen to what it is they're saying by taking a knee. What good are we as a nation if we only get angry and can't recognize the problems that still linger for our fellow man?