Bullet-Proofing

Another week in America. Another massacre.

(File that in the category of things I never – in my wildest and worst nightmares – imagined saying/thinking/writing.)

A deranged gunman opens fire in a crowded bar in Thousand Oaks.

Bullets fly.

People die.

And the attacker pauses to post on social media before killing himself. (More on that later.)

Our reactions are wide-ranging… and telling. From unmoved to outraged, heartsick to dumbstruck.

Here we go again.

Sudden death. And then a tidal wave of emotions: apathy (another mass shooting today… and… by the way, did you pick up the dry cleaning?) to anger… to anguish.

Who can answer the locked-and-loaded questions? Who can make sense of the senseless?

Who can stop the hell-bent?

Immediately following the bloodshed, the same refrain. Pundits pontificate. Politicians posture. Parents press for solutions… and scramble to protect their young.

Praying desperate prayers…

Deliver us from evil.

Taking necessary precautions…

Baby-proofing. Bullet-proofing.

How on God’s green earth did we get here?

There’s no denying that danger lurks… darkness lingers. In malls and movie theaters, neighborhoods and nightclubs.

We aren’t safe anywhere. Even in school. Even in synagogue. (Homeland security? Is there even such a thing?)

Maybe I’m an idealist (or a loon), but I think there’s a lot we can/should/must do.

NOW.

I’m no policy expert, but it seems fairly obvious that these things should top our “to do” list:

  • Ban manufacture and sale of assault weapons, bump stocks and extended magazines. Stat.
  • Require a waiting period prior to all gun purchases. Thirty days seems reasonable. Enough time for law enforcement to do background checks, hotheads to cool off, and suicidal/homicidal impulses to pass. (If it takes 6-8 weeks to get a passport, why should anybody complain about waiting 4 weeks for a weapon?)
  • Impose a minimum age requirement of 21 for gun ownership and possession (with exceptions for active duty military personnel).
  • Implement a more effective red-flagging system. Mental health professionals, physicians and educators – who are already “mandatory reporters” anyway – submit critical information directly to law enforcement when they suspect someone may have violent impulses or intent to harm. Immediate risk assessment follows.
  • Create a database to compile these and other “at-risk” reports. If someone appears to be mentally unstable and potentially violent, a concerned family member/ friend/neighbor can call a hotline or file an online report. (Similar to a DCFS report for child abuse.) If three such reports are received, law enforcement responds (computer search, mental-health assessment, weapons inventory, etc.).
  • Bolster investigative units specializing in online/social media threats. Develop algorithms for identifying cases of cyber-radicalization and home-grown terrorism.
  • Provide active shooter training for every professional currently required to be first aid/CPR certified. (School administrators, health care workers, etc.)

In this latest attack, the shooter (described by acquaintances as a “hothead” with an “explosive temper”) had been reported to police during a domestic disturbance last April. Finding him “somewhat irate” and “irrational,” law enforcement officials called in a crisis intervention team and mental health specialist. Despite concerns about his agitated behavior (and possible PTSD related to prior military service – including deployment to Afghanistan in 2011), the young man was cleared.

If he had been held on a 5150 order, he would have been taken into custody for 72 hours and – under California law – would have been prohibited from owning or possessing firearms thereafter.

And maybe, just maybe, a dozen people who were alive and well on Wednesday afternoon would still be living and breathing. At least a little longer.

I doubt any of the folks in the Borderline Bar and Grill Wednesday night thought it might be their last. Most of the victims were young, their whole lives ahead of them.

But the truth is – even with a vest, shield and tactical gear – the only part of us that’s bulletproof is our soul.

For man is but a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. ~ Psalm 144:4 

Our bodies break. Our minds fail. Our hearts stop. But our souls, they endure. Even when wildfires ravage and storms batter and bullets rain, our souls survive.

My great comfort in these trying and troubled times is this:

It is well with my soul. 

And my desperate prayer is that it be well with yours too. Because every SOS is ultimately… a plea to God.

Save Our Souls.

I don’t know when or where terror will strike next. Or whether I might soon be “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” unaware of someone armed-and-dangerous nearby. (Because as the gunman so eerily wrote in his mid-massacre social media post: “Yeah… I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’ or ‘keep you in my thoughts…’ Every time… and wonder why these keep happening.”)

I understand the sheer exasperation and disgust of those who keep hearing “thoughts and prayers” but not a single solution.

(Or more importantly, action… protection… prevention.)

So to all the victims’ families and everyone who’s shell-shocked, grief-stricken, frightened or furious tonight, I offer not only my thoughts and prayers… but action points.

Because…

… With faith… If it doesn’t cause us to do something, it’s dead. ~ James 2:17

Please keep praying. (Frankly, I’m stunned by anyone – talking to you, Cuomo – who suggests prayer makes no difference. Without prayer Chris, things would be a HELL of a lot worse.)

And yes, let’s take action too.

Don’t let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good. ~ Romans 12:21

For God’s sake, let’s do something.

Call your elected officials, thank a first-responder, donate blood, hug your kid.

And never ever forget…

Love. Will. Win.

Wendy

P.S. On this Veteran’s Day (as we ponder how to best protect our people and our nation), a simple and sincere “thanks” to our vets seems woefully insufficient. But today and every day, I’m grateful to the brave men and women who’ve served in the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard. May God bless you and keep you. And may it be well with your soul.

 

 

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Private Investigations in the Public Eye

Every morning, Twitter asks me what’s happening.

Our “United States” seem to be falling apart, that’s what.

(And a whole lot of Americans are at risk of being buried beneath the rubble.)

The past few weeks have served up an acrid mix of leaks, low blows, accusations and interrogations. With a heaping side of voyeurism and vitriol.

The folks in charge seem to be very busy playing their fame/shame/blame games. Preening, posing and pontificating. Politicizing… and demonizing. Ad nauseum.

(Anyone else feeling sick?)

As I observed bits and pieces of the congressional proceedings last week, I drew several obvious conclusions which I’ve listed in no particular order. I hope we can agree on this:

Sexual assault is heinous… and rampant. 

Binge drinking is an open invitation to disaster. (And frequently leads to despair… or rehab.)

People who leak private information suck.

Media – right, left or so-called-centrist – is making very little effort at producing unbiased, non-sensationalist news. (I hold a journalism degree, and this isn’t what we were taught. Not even close.)

Americans are gluttons for sordid details, dirty laundry, and sexploitation.

Accusations can do nearly as much damage as physical violence.

D.C. seems more like a circus these days than a capital.

Again and again, I’ve heard the same refrain with regard to allegations against the Supreme Court nominee:

It’s a “he-said, she-said” dispute. One of them is lying.

Perhaps.

Or maybe they both are, to some degree. We humans have a tendency to do that: deflect or mislead, hedge or hide, stretch or distort the truth, especially when we have a lot to gain… or lose. (I know I’m guilty.)

But there’s another (arguably remote) possibility here too. What if they are both telling the truth as they remember it? What if the disparity is entirely due to wildly divergent recollections of the events of 1982? (If someone asked me to reconstruct the summer of ’82, I can assure you I’d have a slew of gaps, gaffes and glaring oversights myself. Heck, I can’t even remember what I wore yesterday. I’ll have to check the laundry hamper.)

Memory isn’t always infallible. And perception isn’t always truth. But it is relevant… and real. Especially to the one who holds it.

I’m not an eyewitness, private investigator or forensic scientist in this matter. So I clearly can’t access and analyze all the pertinent information and evidence. (Though I hope the FBI does.) I’m not a prosecutor or public defender, so I need not argue on behalf of the accuser or the accused. (Why do people feel compelled to do that… like it’s their job?) I’m not a judge or jury member either, so my personal opinions have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of these proceedings. (In fact there’s no judge or jury at all because this isn’t a trial… although I’m sure it feels like one to both the accused and the accuser.)

There was no verdict after Thursday’s hearing. But plenty of people passed judgment:

“The nominee is a drunk/mocker/predator.”

Or…

“The accuser is a liar/lackey/loon.”

You know what I think? I think every single person who says (s)he has been a victim of sexual violence ought to be heard. Allegations of sexual assault have to be taken very, very seriously and investigated thoroughly. Every. Single. Time.

And I think every person who believes (s)he has been falsely accused ought to be able to defend her/himself rigorously. Without exception.

Because everyone – every single soul in this embattled, beautiful country of ours – has a story, a voice, and a right to speak freely.

(But beware the backlash. It can be brutal… and cost plenty.)

Ultimately, the Supreme Court will get a justice (either this one or another). Some people will gloat because they got what they wanted. Others will grouse because they didn’t. And life… and politics… will go on.

What do I want?

Well, here’s what I don’t want. I don’t want politics to be the center of my life. I don’t want my political views or someone else’s to dictate who can and cannot be my friend. And I certainly don’t want politicans to do my thinking for me. No, thank you.

I want the truth.

“You can’t handle the truth.” 

You may be right, Jack. But it’s still what I want. It’s what we should all want.

More importantly, it’s what God wants.

For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. (Luke 8:17, NLT)

And I want justice.

Like Father, like daughter:

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face. (Psalm 11:7, NIV)

Praying for truth, justice and a better (rather than bitter) American way.

Join me?

Wendy

P.S. If anyone in Washington is wondering what to do, here’s a hint:

The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must act with justice. You must love to show mercy. And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God. (Micah 6:8, NIRV)

Special acknowledgment: Accompanying artwork is courtesy of our artist-in-residence, Chloe Louise. (She has quite an eye for detail, don’t you think?  😉