Very much a day like no other. Everything started like a normal Monday but a little after 8:00 am we were coming out of our regular Monday morning meeting and heard the fire alarm going off in the building next door. Shortly thereafter we heard rumors of a gunman followed by announcements to take cover.
Many of us, being Sailors, were looking for ways to help but the right answer was to stay put regardless of what we wanted to do. There was a tremendous police presence the likes of which I’ve never personally seen before.
I visit the cafeteria in Bldg 197 once or twice on most days. I’m not sure what they will do now because I’m not so sure that people are going to want to sit and socialize there any longer. It will definitely be a tough recovery for all involved.
Personally, I’m fine. Yesterday was a long day but I eventually made it home. I didn’t witness any violence myself but just knowing that people with whom I work everyday were going through the horrible events that transpired is rough for me. I’ll be fine but my heart truly goes out to the families that lost love ones, to those injured, and to those who witnessed what happened.
In the days, weeks, and months ahead there will be no limit to the debate. The problem will be attributed to guns in one interview, security posture in another news article, and mental health among many others. From my perspective, the problem will ultimately come down to issues much closer to home and much more personal.
We cannot let the evil that was made manifest yesterday triumph over all that is good in the world. We can’t stop caring about people and turn this nation into a police state where everyone is treated with an equal level of distrust. Security checkpoints, metal detectors, x-ray machines, and armed security are all great but they are intended to catch people who have already made a decision to do something violent. We need to prevent things like this before they ever get to that level.
Situations like this and others have never caused me to believe that slamming the door in the face of gentleman entering the building behind me is the right answer. Access badge scanners are great for tracking people but they are not security measures. This man most likely came into the Navy Yard with hate and anger in his heart and it’s likely that badge scanners and security guards were nothing more than minor annoyances as he was planning his attack.
We all want to find things that can be changed to make us feel more secure and less threatened. That’s okay and perfectly natural but the technology options and brute muscle already mentioned are not what is going to give us the power to feel safe in the world in which we live.
The world in which I’d like to live offers many a “hello,” “good morning,” “thank you,” and “let me give you a hand.” It’s a world where parents rear children in solid homes with a mom and a dad who love and care about each other. It’s a world where parents hold their children responsible for their own actions so that those same children grow up learning to be responsible citizens in the societies in which we live. Children who learn at home how to give selfless service to those around them are far less likely to fall into the weakness of character that leads to these violent actions.
It’s entirely possible that the events of yesterday could’ve been stopped years ago by someone who simply thought to be kind to a young man who needed some help and guidance. I didn’t personally know the man who committed this terrible crime but I do know that no one is born evil. We come into this world with talents and abilities intended to be used for good purposes, the Lord’s purposes.
Daily we are in a battle of good against evil. This battle has been raging on since before we came to this earth and it will certainly continue. Contrary to popular opinion evil will not ultimately triumph. Jesus Christ has already defeated that evil and we must not allow anger and fear to turn us from that which is good and right. We cannot allow our inner light to turn dark as a result of these terrible events.
As we move forward from here ask yourself what sort of world you’d like to live in. Don’t back yourself into a corner and allow fear and anger to control your thoughts and actions. Don’t be so willing to turn over your rights to the state in the belief that they can make you safer. The state can only make attempts to protect us after parents, home, family, and faith have failed.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, church leaders, scout leaders, youth group leaders, and others form the front lines in this war. We are all responsible in building up our youth to be strong in choosing things that are right and worthy. With careful and thoughtful leadership and meaningful guidance we’ll see those youth who need a helping hand and hopefully be able to give enough of ourselves to help keep them from ever making these terrible choices as adults.
I have faith that this can be done. I know however that regardless of our efforts that somewhere in the world the process will fail and terrible things will happen anyway. We do not need to feel defeated by these events. We must instead double our efforts, reach out to those in need, love our neighbors and draw closer as communities. Our strength lies in overcoming the evils of the world and striving for that celestial standard where we all glory together in goodness and righteousness.