Observations: Saved by a leap?

Published on: June 24, 2015


Mitch Traphagen

Mitch Traphagen

On Netflix I’ve started watching a television show called Quantum Leap that dates to 1989. It was such a different world then. But 1989 wasn’t the best of years. We were in a recession. Jobs were hard to come by, and there was a general sense of moroseness in the nation.

All of which helped to make Quantum Leap a popular show. It was about a guy who would leap into people in the past and right wrongs. He was a good guy. Back then, that must have been a nice escape, certainly a nice thought. That someday we would have the technology to right the wrongs of the past, or the present, as the case may be.

You would think such a show would work today. People are stressed like never before. More and more is being asked for less and less. But I’m afraid we are simply too jaded to believe such a thing anymore. Had you asked someone in 1989 if there would be flying cars in 2015, I’m sure most people would have said yes. Had you asked if war and starvation would have been resolved by 2015, I’m sure most people would have thought so.

We haven’t done very well. None of that has happened.

The world is a pretty messed-up place. Despite the horror that occurred in Charleston, S.C., I just can’t see arming churches as making it a less messy place. Mitch Traphagen photo.

The world is a pretty messed-up place. Despite the horror that occurred in Charleston, S.C., I just can’t see arming churches as making it a less messy place. Mitch Traphagen photo.

Nine innocent people were slaughtered in a church in South Carolina. They invited and welcomed their own murderer in to join them in Bible study. They accepted him. And then he murdered them. And now people argue about whether it was terrorism or racism, largely along political lines, surely the dumbest separation we’ve experienced as a nation.

Of course, it was both. And I say that as a nonpartisan. It was also evil insanity on an unimaginable scale.

The racism part is easy — the perpetrator himself admitted to it.

The terrorism part is also easy. With the crazed act of one whacked-out lunatic, fear has been put into the hearts of millions of people. Now suddenly, you can’t even go to your own church without at least a passing thought that someone might gun you down or slice open your throat when you least expect it.

Every such act against humanity and decency is terrorism.

In 2010, when two Tampa police officers were murdered during what should have been a routine traffic stop, that was terrorism. How could it be anything else? Police officers are the brave men and women who stand between us and the few truly insane people who have no value for life — specifically, your life.

In 1998, when two Tampa police detectives and a Florida State Trooper were killed by a lunatic they had in custody, that was terrorism.

Let’s get real here: Adhering to a certain religion does not a terrorist make. They come in all shapes and colors, including the Midwestern-appearing “boys next door” who blew up an office building in Oklahoma City. And, oh yeah, they included a day-care center in that.

All of that is the definition of terrorism, and it doesn’t matter that they weren’t wearing turbans.

Gun laws are a tricky subject. First, there are way too many guns to actually hope to truly regulate them. We are one hell of a well-armed nation and woe be it to anyone who should decide to make an invasion attempt. There would be a shotgun or a .22 rifle behind every single tree and bush in this country, not to mention those with the serious firepower locked away in basements.

So with that, how do you stop a lunatic from murdering 20 children and six adults at an elementary school? Armed teachers? Perhaps that is a solution, but it sure strikes me as one that has us devolving away from an advanced and civilized society rather than working toward one. We really, really need to work toward one. We have problems to solve — and we are going to need one another to solve some of them. Arming ourselves and schoolteachers in fear is hardly something that will bind us together as a nation. And keep in mind, the lunatics are still going to be those who fire first.

Perhaps pastors should be packing heat? Yeah, there is some biblical talk about not walking in like sheep to a slaughter — but really? We have few enough places of peace without gun-slinging pastors — or, at least, expecting them to be. We really should not expect that of them.

I have no answers to evil insanity. I have no answers to terrorism, either abroad or domestic. I have no answers to racism. I just wish we could figure out a way to hate a hell of a lot less and love and care for each other a lot more. It would seem as though love should conquer all, right? Personally, I think solving hate is the key. People are angry, and it seems they are getting angrier. I’m afraid that, for the moment, our best hope lies in those who lead our nation, to lead us out of anger and hatred toward brighter days.

But, of course, there are obvious problems there, too. They need to get their acts together to actually be leaders. Today’s nonstop political drama-fest is probably only feeding that anger.

Perhaps our best bet is that someone, a good guy or woman, will leap in from the future. If nothing else, that would mean we have a future. One can always hope.