Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gun your engine

So, the other night, as we paused mid-year to let our patriotic fervor reach its full flower, 600 Baltimore City police flooded Baltimore's Inner Harbor...not quite enough to prevent one death by stabbing (broken-off booze bottle to the neck of someone), one shooting (people here just love to fire those handguns on holidays and New Year's, and the bullet this time came down in the body of a four-year-old boy), one hit-and-run pedestrian accident, and one mini-riot that someone shot with a cell camera and put on YouTube. Police officials figure that with a crowd estimated at around 100,000 people, they need around 100,000 police, or one for each person, so that people will not stab each other to death with broken-off bottles, shoot their phallic substitutes into the night air, run each other over, or run rampant in the streets.

Yet, people are being urged to continue going downtown and dining, shopping and dodging bullets in these melees.  And the civic minded say it's safe down there, and plenty of people came home unscathed the other night.  Don't be afraid, they urge.  Feel safe!  It's all in the perception.

Guns, guns, guns.
Then, some guy wearing flannel in July decided to point his phallic substitute at a guy working a speed camera car for the State, causing the road from here to DC to be shut down for three hours.  Drug dealers, gun runners and others who depend on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to keep their commerce flowing freely were thoroughly inconvenienced.

I have to wonder about society sometimes.  Actually, a lot. The death of Caylee Anthony and the sloppy investigation of her murder enraged millions, and Facebook groups were started to protest all that, and people were leaving their porch lights on for Caylee.  That's all good, but what about this poor guy from Alabama who came downtown the other night for the fireworks and will go home in a coffin?  Still sad, how about the little boy who will spend the rest of his life wondering if some other fool will shoot him in celebration.  We want verdicts overturned and we burn with anger when courts go against the popular grain, and then we overturn police cars and burn down liquor stores when a basketball team wins a game.

I guess the counselors are right.  If we thought about how many Caylees got tossed into how many shallow graves in any year, it would be horrible to contemplate.  Natalee Holloway goes on vacation and is murdered, but if we knew how many murders like hers took place, it would be staggering to ponder.  We focus on one or two such cases at a time, but they are just microcosms of the world.

If I might humbly suggest this, how about we all take a long hard look at our behaviors and vow to fix the ones that might be harmful to ourselves and others?  That might be a good first step.  I'd like to think that we can still celebrate our nation's declaration of independence by becoming free of the fear of dying in a crowd just because someone else in the crowd cannot behave.  Then, once again, we could feel safe.  It's all in the perception.

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