In a flash, the six turnovers last Sunday no longer matter. Getting the “W” column fixed seems trivial. Playoff hopes, still well-nurtured just yesterday, now fading to a dull ache beneath the sharp sorrow of the unthinkable loss.
You don’t have to be a Redskins fan to feel disturbed by the death of Sean Taylor, murdered in his Florida home in an apparent burglary.
Already, incessant cyberspace chatter hurls accusations and proclamations: another young Black man falls victim to gun violence; why care more about a celebrity than the thousands of dead and wounded youth whose names are known only to their loved ones; please, there’s a war on, let’s focus on more important things; what was really going on in that house. So goes the chatter out there on blogs and talk radio and in bars and backrooms.
Amid the dross, some kernels of truth: the only game that matters is the Game of Life. Some of that emerges in the recognition that this young man was beginning to grow up, that fatherhood had made him seem more mature, that he was becoming a team leader.
Another truth: we reap what we sow. A society that does not stand for peace must live with the consequences of violence. Sean Taylor is now one more famous face on the plague of violence in this nation. No one can escape — not the wealthy athlete living behind the gate, not the celebrity musician gunned down on the street, not the impoverished child on her front stoop. Violence respects no class, no status, no race, no age.
Guns. Yes, guns are only inanimate objects until they become weapons of personal destruction in the hands of criminals, madmen and suicidal people. But guns are destroying people in this country at an alarming rate. Politicians who think nothing of mandating seat belts and smoke-free restaurants look the other way when it comes to guns. Shame on them.
Our laws reflect our social values. Legislation that says “no” to guns may not end violence, but such laws proclaim the society’s expectation for peace and security. A society that does not have the willpower to enact laws that reflect such values will never escape the consequences.
Pray for Sean Taylor’s family, fellow players, fans trying to make sense of the senseless. Pray for all of the victims of gun violence in this nation. And, pray that at some point this nation will have the courage to act against this violence in a truly meaningful way, taking up the cause of peace and justice, fighting for what is right. In the words of legendary labor leader Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead. Fight like hell for the living.”