The Norman Transcript

Columns

February 7, 2013

What can we do to combat violence?

NORMAN — The murder of innocent people hangs heavy in our air, and I, like so many, sat teary-eyed day after day wondering and asking why and how. It’s not about guns; it’s not about laws; it’s not about pointing fingers and blaming.

Are we so disengaged as citizens that we cannot come together, listen to each other and take responsibility for the “culture of our nation”? I think we must take responsibility for each action we send out and for sharing our love with and beyond our families.

Not long ago, a young woman was shot to death just six houses away in “my” neighborhood. I didn’t know her or the neighbors around her. I count that as a loss in my life. Her picture in the newspaper shows a loving smile, one I will never know. When our neighbor, Rex, suffered from cancer, I couldn’t stop it, but I could spend a few sunny afternoons chatting with him on his front porch. It wasn’t much, but it was real human contact. I count personal “hellos” and face-to-face conversations high on my list of experiencing joy.

The “should have” statements that we so often make won’t change one thing that has happened, but maybe there is something I can do, or we can do to prevent a future tragedy. One commandment rings out: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” We live in a neighborhood where I know some neighbors well enough to call them friends. I even know every dog by name, thanks to our daily doggy walks but, sadly, not every neighbor.

To knock on a door, with a TV blaring in the background, and ask, “I was just wondering how you were feeling today” might be scary, but it might be insightful. What might I learn if I stopped and chatted with the neighbor woman I’ve only seen a handful of times in the 10 years she’s driven in and out of her drive way? I can see her in the car from this very place where I write, yet I’ve never once met her.

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