It’s been a long week in America, starting with the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Tuesday was the 6th anniversary of the shootings of 32 innocent students and teachers on the campus of my alma mater, including Professor Librescu who survived the German Holocaust, but not the American 2nd Amendment.
Wednesday, our shameful Congress failed to pass legislation that would provide for universal background checks that might prevent ex convicts and those with mental illnesses from purchasing guns. 90% of Americans are in favor of these ideas, yet Congress looked the parents of newly murdered children in the eye and told them they didn’t think that the emotion surrounding the deaths of these five and six-year olds was reason enough to take steps to prevent it from happening again. Congress preferred to bow to the gun lobby—an entity with no votes at all— and do nothing. In the global community working for non-violence, I am weary of America playing the part of the village idiot.
Wednesday night, a fertilizer plant exploded in West, Texas, killing many, nearly obliterating a small town. Anhydrous ammonia – the same thing that sits in tanker cars in my hometown of Hopewell.
Flags flew at half-mast on my way to Charlottesville. I thought about how rare a sight that was in my youth. The first half-mast I recall was in 1963, after the assassination of President Kennedy. Back then, it seemed that the flag was lowered only when a national leader had died. Now it seems, the flag is raised and lowered to half mast as often as most people change socks. For bombings, for shootings of theater goers. Shootings of students. Shootings of babies. Up and down, up and down.
Driving south on Highway 29 toward home in Nelson County, I took in the misty green of new leaves along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the purple-y redbuds, the blue sky. I thought about what it means now to have a good day in America; how far we’ve lowered the bar: No one I know has been hurt in a bomb this week. No one I know has been shot. No chemical plants blew up in my hometown.
It’s been a long week in America. But for me, it’s been a good day.