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© Wes Gow

I grew up in the 80’s in what was then a more rural town outside of Tampa, Florida. We never watched much TV (although I vividly remember the first episodes of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and there was yet no such thing as handheld media outlets.  Nonetheless, I can look back on the vast majority of my childhood and adolescence and recall two things that the tube taught me.  First, the Tampa Bay Bucs were unwatchable.  A Sunday afternoon in front of the orange and white uniforms, with Vinny Testaverde taking snaps under center, was like watching that scene in Castaway where Mr. Hanks attempts to paddle his DIY life raft beyond the pounding surf, only to get…pounded.  But the second thing I remember with awful consistency is the steady stream of images coming from this area of earth that may as well have been another universe to me:  the Middle East was where people hurt each other.  All the time.  Even now, it feels like the same stories, reels, and photos have just been on repeat for the last 30+ years.

As a kid and teenager, I was never able to square that.  Why in the hell did terrible acts of violence seem to happen every day in that remote part of the planet?

Friday morning, a few days after Independence Day, I woke up and saw Dallas all over my twitter feed.  After several minutes of discovering the atrocities, I got quite scared.  Not because I feared for the streets outside the windows of our suburban ranch home (although I do much more now that I’m a father).  I got scared because I discovered the same desensitized feeling I had as a kid whenever I saw those journalists reporting from a bomb site or bloody skirmish.

Today, I imagine there’s a kid growing up in western Europe, or maybe Australia, who is coming to a similar conclusion about my own country as I did about the Middle East when I was their age:  America is where everyone shoots each other.

I’ve said this before in a previous post, but it’s a terrible reality that I’m raising kids in an increasingly violent, divided, and corrupt nation.  That’s really scary.

No profound philosophies here; there’s way too much of that on my Facebook newsfeed (attempts anyway, very little that’s profound).

Just sorrow.  Sorrow for Dallas and the families who are mourning this weekend. Sorrow for the kids of the fallen officers who will never forget this summer.  Sorrow for the families of the shooting victims in Alabama and Minnesota.  Sorrow for the endless bickering on social media.  Sorrow for our nation and our world.

Our country is changing for the worse, and I’m in support of just about anything that moves the needle in the opposite direction in a healthy manner.  Things like love, patience, grace, and forgiveness, among others, do just that.

* The image for this post is taken from a news article reported/published in a Massachusetts media outlet in 2011.  The story has since been removed from the station’s site, but you can find out more details here

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