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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

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The man was clearly on his way to work. I wondered if he would get his nice suit dirty, removing the nuts from the hub, handling the spare. The woman stood beside her car. Because I was on foot, and overheard, I know that he was saving her from a long wait for a tow to the service station.

Not that I would know, but he seemed to have the procedure well in hand. They probably both resumed their separate ways by the time I opened my front door. There was nothing remarkable about the scene at all: just a couple of ordinary people in an ordinary situation.

But to me it played like it was it was slo-mo, hi-def, as the most ordinary scenes have these past few weeks.

Most of you have probably heard by now that a Little Rock television news anchor died here on Saturday, after being savagely beaten in her home, in a "safe" neighborhood, not far from us. I don't watch the local news much, and I didn't recognize her name until I saw her photograph and remembered meeting her very briefly when I took my Tiger cub den on a tour of her station last year. She was very young, and very pretty, and they say she was good at her job. I'll leave it to people who knew her to eulogize her properly.

The attack has shaken many of us here to the core. An assault like that is not an assault on one person, it's an assault on an entire community. The intruder breaks in through one house, and enters everyone's. We lie awake at night, listening for footsteps, cars stopping, dogs barking. Our faith in humanity, in the safety of our homes, in simple goodness, has been vandalized. Trashed.

I don't believe such events are purposeful. I don't think they are part of "God's plan." We all lament, "why," but the answer is something our bodies are born knowing: we are mortal. We feel, we hurt, we die. Cancer cells multiply, food gets caught in an airway, a mind twists and breaks. And coldly, logically, there is death. No mystery at all, really.

The meaning is not in the tragedy. There is no order in the chaos. The meaning is in life. The order is in the ordinary. A man kneels on the side of the road to change a woman's flat tire. He picks up a lug wrench, turns the nut, and you remember, this, this is how we are.



Blogger Elizabeth Harper said...

Well said Kyran...violence is a sad story in all forms and you're right in that it shakes the already loose grasp most of us have on our sense of security.

I've been watching the news reports from a small village in England and that killing along with the shooting of three members of Jennifer Hudson's family have been a part of the local conversation here

The perception here is that America is a pretty violent place. From here...where people don't have easy access to guns, I can see why it looks that way.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

Yes, I saw that story on one of the online news sites, gathered immediately that she was a special person, noted the location and knew it was going to hit close to home for you.

I agree that such things are not part of "God's plan", if indeed there is such a plan at all. Nor can we make sense of why it happened.

If we could understand the "why" of such matters, we would also know why children are killed, abused and struck down by disease.

Nor can we write it all off to fate. There are grave injustices in the world that are within our ability to change and influence. Perhaps the key is in recognizing when to take action, when to ignore the things that go bump in the night... and when to just pick up the lug wrench and help someone in distress.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Joy! said...

I thought of you when I heard. You're right; it makes no sense.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

e, guns don't help, that's for sure. even in the absence of intent to commit violence. you may have read that an 8 year old child was killed in his father's arms at a state fair this week, getting a demonstration in the use of an Uzi. Sheer insanity.

However, I think that hard drugs are the bigger problem here. Crack cocaine and meth turns ordinary people into psychotics. sheer speculation on my part, but I think it will come out that crack played a role in the Hudson killings, and I would not be surprised if it or meth were involved in the Pressly attack.

so much terrible waste.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Christa said...

This hit me like a ton of bricks. It speaks to the space I'm in right now. Thank you for sharing this truth.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Running with a sharp pencil said...

I'm from this area also, and I have a 23 yr. old daughter who wanders the town. Makes me insane! Note that there was no firearms involved in this murder. My 26 yr. old son said, "too bad she didn't have a gun" to protect herself. He also said that it was obviously not a robbery because they want to get out of there. For the most part, it not law-abiding decent people we have to worry about having firearms. The viciousness of this attack, obviously aimed at disfiguring the victim, indicates rage and hatred towards someone who has rejected him. I guess we will see. Yes, it does shake up the entire community because it shows us how vile human nature can be.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Being a Mom really heightens the horror, doesn't it?

...and I agree that guns aren't necessary to commit horrible acts of violence. I do worry about firearms in the hands of decent, law-abiding people, though, because of the kinds of accidents like the one I mentioned above and countless others that happen each year. The idea of guns as a right is so baffling to many of us who live or grow up in other developed countries. But I have been here long enough to know I will never win that argument! ;-)

and statistically, we Moms have much more to worry about from cars than those headline-grabbing, heart-wrenching incidents.

as the late great Mrs Bombeck said, to be a mother is to live with your heart outside your body.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I was at the kitchen counter reading the paper when my wife got up this morning. She looked at me and asked why I was so glum. I was taken aback at first because I really didn't feel glum--it was a brilliant autumn Arkansas morning and I didn't think my mood was such a stark contrast. But then I thought about what I had just been reading: a column about the death of Anne Pressley and a report about the recent murders at UCA. My God, it has been a tough week in these parts. I'm quite sure that whatever God's plans are they are made in spite of these events not through them.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

and let's not forget Sonya Ratcliff, who was shot in her home in southwest Little Rock in front of her three children by her ex-boyfriend the same week. Her eight year old son called 911. Further from my home, but perhaps even closer to my heart.

Dark days.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Damn, this was incredible. So unexpected to arrive at a blog for the first time and be so utterly captivated.

Thank you.

8:09 AM  
Blogger jen lemen said...

so so sorry to hear this, kyran. i wrote about a very violent homicide in richmond a few years ago and it had the same chilling affect on that community. sweet family, safe neighborhood, mindless brutality.

i'm so sorry.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

Some discussions just get more relevant with the passage of time. In Arizona, we have the tragedy of an eight-year-old boy, shooting to death his father and another adult. Staggering...

2:02 PM  
Blogger Loren Christie said...

There was a horrible stabbing a few blocks from my house this past weekend, right next door to the building where I run a youth group for teens. The incident was racially motivated, it turns out. All involved were teens. I feel scared raising children in this environment, but things like this happen everywhere.
I think God has nothing to do with the evil choices people make, and everything to do with the people who choose to be a light in the seemingly chaoic world. The good samaritan on the side of the road is an example of God at work in the world. This is a nice post. Very thoughtful.

2:01 PM  

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