Friday, July 17, 2015

My thoughts are no clearer than anyone else's

But when a terrorist's attack, even if he radicalized himself, happens in your hometown, you have to think something about it, right?

Yesterday was a strange day.  In order to get out of town, I needed to cut the grass.  But then I started getting calls from my wife who works in the courthouse.

There's been a shooting on Lee Highway.

There's been a shooting at the mall in Cleveland. (This was later debunked.).

The city's going crazy. They've got us on lockdown.

 They say there's an active shooter loose.

They've instituted a no-fly zone over the city.

Lowlife that I am, all I wanted to do was to get the grass cut.  So, I asked, can I go outside and cut the grass?  I wouldn't, she said.  So I didn't.  And started watching CNN instead.

No, my personal story is neither interesting nor relevant.  Please know that when it was confirmed on television that the situation was over, I went out and cut the grass.  And when I got too hot on that 90+ degree day, I came back inside and watched CNN.

I only offer this account as an example of what was happening with regular people while four Marines had been killed in our city and several others injured.  We didn't know much of what was going on, and by the time we heard about, it was over.

I did notice several things as a listener/observer:

1.  If you think CNN is the cutting edge, think again.  Their "Breaking News" was way behind other sources.  My daughter knew the name of the shooter at least an hour before CNN came out with it.  She is in Nashville.  She also found a blogger online who had all of the background information on the shooter many hours before CNN  had that info.  Maybe they've been burned and are cautious, or else they are the last to know.

2.  Even in the midst of tragedy, there is something perversely entertaining about knowing more than the major news outlets.  And it makes me wonder.

3.  When you deconstruct a tragedy with friends, those friends will zero in on issues you never thought important.  Like last night, when my friend started critiquing the shooter's escape plan and the weaknesses of it.  Or when you run into an alum in a bar who clearly has other issues and can't even engage in the tragedy.

We all of us in this modern world scenario try, more than anything, to engage in the information competition--who can come up with the renegade source that gives him or her the edge, the shred of intel that makes him or her the "go to du moment".  We are funny in that way.  Information may be nearly limitless, but ways to get at it, for us mere mortals, are not, and so we all scramble to know something that no one else does, but when we discover it, thousands, perhaps dozens or hundreds of thousands of people already know it.  And we are surprised to discover that each time it happens.

Mostly, I am very proud of my city so far, though, like the rest of this, it needs not my endorsement. The police were aggressive in the best ways.  The churches have done exceptional work with prayer meetings and vigils and interfaith services.  Our individual citizens, even if their English usage goes South, have represented us so well with their  candor, their observational skills, their raw emotions.  I can only pray that the focus stays on mourning the victims; as long as the whole city is welcome to do that, maybe we will get through this okay.

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