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  • Can we all get along?

    There’s been another shooting.

    Yesterday, an early morning softball practice in Alexandria became target practice for a lone gunman.

    Immediately you wonder, was it basic crime, someone on drugs needing money, or a gang-related grudge?

    Was it road rage? Someone cut someone else off and the one offended had to get the last word with a weapon.

    Maybe it was religious — those claiming the Muslim religion as their cause, or those espousing fringe beliefs at either end of the spectrum of Christian, Jew, Palestinian or North or South Sudanese, the list goes on.

    Now, decades after the civil rights movement, you sadly begin to wonder, could it be racial, white against black, black against white?

    Or, the latest reason for violence, was it political? Is it an anti-Republican, anti-conservative targeting a politician or the entire new administration, or was it someone with a grudge against a liberal, aka Democratic, figure?

    Mental illness is an equal opportunity disease. It cuts across geographic, religious, racial, political, social, economic and any other descriptor you want to insert here. 

    The label being put on the Alexandria shooting — seemingly targeted at Republicans practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game — “politically motivated.” The end result: Rep. Steve Scalise was shot and badly wounded, as was a lobbyist, and two U.S. Capitol Police officers and a staffer were wounded.

    Throw gun control into the conversation. More or less restrictions — you choose. Get guns off the streets or make sure everyone has a weapon to defend themselves. Consensus here is impossible.

    People are scared. Used to be you knew what areas of the city to avoid late at night to keep yourself safe. You might heed State Department travel warnings to not vacation abroad in areas of unrest. You bite your tongue and hover your hand over, not on, your horn in traffic, and forget about using your high beams to warn another driver.

    All bets are off the table now.

    At the end of the day, or the end of the tragedy, what difference does it make? But it does matter — to the victims, their families, their friends, their community, law enforcement. And it matters to us, so we know where else to be scared, or vigilant, or poised to retaliate.

    Basic civility is a throw-back that many have never heard of and few value. Forget about the T-shirt slogan about random acts of kindness.

    So, what’s the answer to the seemingly endless escalation of violence these days?

    Marches? Sure, you can find a march almost any day in Washington for your favorite cause. That builds community and honors the First Amendment guarantee of peaceable assembly, but the next day when the posters are balled up in the trashcans along Constitution Avenue how much of that good will lingers?

    Activism? Ok, but be careful, that can quickly turn ugly and political, and divisive and violent.

    Prayer? Absolutely, we all should be praying for peace, especially this year, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s pleas for prayer.

    Recall the often-quoted question asked by Rodney King, the man at the center of the Los Angeles Riots 25 years ago — “Can we all get along?” Think about it. Why can’t we all get along?

    Are we humans that different? Don’t most of us share some basic values: family, freedom, opportunity? And for those who don’t share these, is there a chance they have their own constructive values? Or are we quick to label a group of people based on assumptions we make because of their geography, religion, race, politics, etc.?

    Is it possible to start a conversation that will outlast the news cycle on the latest tragedy? A conversation that might lead to a shift in values or at least a rallying cry that we’ll all try a little harder — as naïve as that sounds — pray a little more fervently and find a way to just get along.


    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

    @Ann M. Augherton