This is neither a pro- nor anti-gun control rumination.
The morning after my parents were murdered, a well-meaning individual told me that I shouldn’t imagine that things might have been different had I been there. The thought actually hadn’t occurred to me at that point — I think I was still in shock, but also trying to process the information I had, rather than running alternative scenarios. I do remember telling the person who said that to me that the only difference I could have made would have been to be another victim, and that I didn’t think that would have improved matters any. I wasn’t trying to be snarky — I just told the truth.
I’ve been asked variations on that theme a few times in the ensuing years, and my answer has remained the same. I’ve never harbored any illusions or fantasies that my presence would have made a difference. Also, I know my parents never intended to be murdered. I don’t think you can point to an action or set of actions they chose or didn’t choose and say, “This is why they were killed.” They did what they thought were the right things to do at the time.
So why did they die, and why did they die in what I fear were last moments of fear and confusion, the thoughts of which horrify me even three years later? They died because an evil person decided it was time for them to die, and we can’t always keep evil people out of our lives, any more than we can absolutely immunize ourselves against life’s other evils. We look both ways before we cross the street — but sometimes are hit by cars anyway. We try to stay out of the rain — but are sometimes struck by lightning nonetheless. And I think that sometimes, evil people are as unavoidable as lightning or brake failure.
By the same token, one doesn’t deliberately lean against flagpoles during a storm, and one tries to cross at corners, and we do the things we think will make us safe. But they don’t always work, and in some important ways, I think terrible things sometimes happen simply because they do, and our efforts to isolate some causative decision are merely another way to pretend we might have made a difference in a world too complex to predict. In a strange way, I find consolation in this, the idea that my mom and dad died because their lives accidentally intersected with an evil person — as they might have with a tornado or a fire, or a negligent driver.
Regardless of the legal outcome of the case of my parents’ murders, I will never be able to say, “This is why this happened.” It wouldn’t have been different if I had been there. It wouldn’t have been different if you had been there. It happened because evil people do evil things, things we can’t emotionally comprehend, even if we know the motivation — which is not always the case. It happened because bad things happen, and we can only find solace in the belief that one day the world — no thanks to us — will one day be made perfect as Isaiah prophesied. And when that happens, we will know why.
This has been neither a pro- nor anti-gun control rumination.