GAWEL: Are we safe anywhere these days?

Ron Gawel

How has it now become fact that going to the supermarket or to school is understandably filled with fear and danger? Is that kind of worrisome paranoia what life has come down to? Are we to be suspicious of everyone and “trust no one” we see coming toward us on the street? Once again, I am compelled to write about everyday, ordinary people, this time too young and too innocent and now unable to stand up for themselves. Nineteen children and two teachers who retreated from the safety of their homes to go to what should have been the safe haven of an elementary school in a small town in Texas. These happy kids were looking forward to the last two days of school and then summer vacation but once again all of America watched in horror and anger, sadness, fear and confusion the news of the nightmare that tragically went down in Uvalde. The whole unbelievable heinous deed made my blood run cold with tremendous upset and with rage!

The 21 individuals that were mercilessly shot to death in a blood bath at the Dobbs Elementary School that day would come face to face with the horror of being confronted by an insane gunman, a terrorist who had every intention of shaking up the world, leaving a hideous scar and making people be frightened of enjoying their daily lives. A scenario of more pure evil took place on that darkest of days ending in cold blooded murder. It is inconceivable the absolute fear and terror these poor children and their two teachers must have been faced with as the gunman put his sick plan into action. My heart bleeds still for every one of them and what they must have went through.

This latest massacre in Texas was very devastating to a troubled town and nation that once again wonders and mourns. As I write this I am bereaved with genuine sadness for the victims of that mass shooting. I am also fuming with anger and disgust at the shocking prospect that any “human” being could conceivably gun down in cold blood a classroom of fourth-graders and two teachers in what should have been a safe learning environment and not show any signs of guilt or remorse. What kind of a “monster,” who obviously cares nothing about the value of life could commit such a heinous and horrific act of violence against humanity? This to me is far above and beyond the doing of an individual suffering from mental illness per se. There is not a suitable word in the English dictionary for a deed such as this that was committed in Uvalde, Texas.

The nightmare of mass shootings anywhere and everywhere continues on a daily basis. They've now occurred every place imaginable on the face of the nation, and diversity as to where they take place has no limits. Is anyone safe, anywhere? It's overdue to make amends, change things with the way select twisted lives are murdering innocent victims. And things can change! Fewer guns, safer communities. There are agencies that can be improved to make these kind of atrocities less likely to happen, safeguards put into place. We can pass legislation making it difficult, next to impossible for disturbed minds to obtain assault rifles. We can make it easier for everyone to get mental health services.

Thoughts and prayers but nothing more are offered to a grieving town and grieving nation. It's just not anywhere near enough. At times it just seems like there is more concern for the gun industry than that of children's lives. It's all incredibly frustrating and so upsetting and nothing changes no matter how horrible things get in this beloved, but oftentimes lop-sided country of ours. The whole gun issue debate is pitting friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor and even family member against family member. It is not at all a comfortable topic for discussion. A friend recently stated he hadn't sworn at the TV in a very long time until after watching the nightly news broadcast covering the tragedy in Texas. He called what took place there the “ultimate depravity!”

And so death again came like a thief in the night, without warning and more totally unsuspecting and innocent people died perhaps before their time as their loved ones more than likely believe. Like the sudden emergence of a morning fog, or a subtle wind crying endlessly through the universe time carried away their names and their deeds, and all that remains is in the memories of those who cared they came this way for a brief moment. We must remember that life is a gift to be joyously unwrapped and then delved into for all its worth, but that death forever hangs over each of us like a looming dark cloud about to burst at any time. With good cause, paranoia seems these days to be everywhere as we go about the round of our daily activities and in fulfilling necessary obligations, taking us to far reaches of diverse places, perhaps inviting our own frightening and totally unexpected demise from our own beautiful life. As I close, I say to everyone — be careful out there and Godspeed!

Ron Gawel is a Niagara Falls resident.

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