Vi­o­lence can be­fall any­one, any­time, so be vig­i­lant, folks

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - HELAINE WIL­LIAMS Email: hwilliams@arkansason­line.com

Be­cause of the July 4 hol­i­day, I had an even-ear­lier-than-usual dead­line to turn in my July 9 col­umn.

Two days af­ter I turned the col­umn in, Lit­tle Rock ex­pe­ri­enced a mass shoot­ing in a night­club. Twenty-five peo­ple were shot; 28 in­jured. These were the shots heard ’ round the world, mak­ing the na­tional news and then some.

It re­ally hits close to home when some­thing like this hap­pens at places one once vis­ited. I en­joyed a meal or two at a for­mer fine restau­rant on the first floor and at­tended sev­eral gen­teel events in what be­came Power Ul­tra Lounge.

When I was younger, I fre­quented night­clubs in Lit­tle Rock and North Lit­tle Rock to lis­ten and dance to the lat­est R&B hits as well as catch the once- pop­u­lar lip- sync con­tests they would host. These were “pri­vate” clubs that legally stayed open un­til 5 a.m. My co­horts and I of­ten didn’t even leave for these clubs un­til af­ter 10 p.m. The lip-sync con­tests usu­ally didn’t get started un­til 2. Now I can only shake my head at the thought of my long-gone stamina and thank the good Lord that I didn’t run into any trou­ble that I couldn’t walk away from.

When news of the shoot­ing hit, I did what I’m sure a goodly num­ber of fel­low Lit­tle Rock Metro­plex dwellers did … scanned the news reports and Face­book to find out who the vic­tims were. I did so hop­ing not to see the names of young ac­quain­tances, or the chil­dren or grand­chil­dren of peers.

Al­though a mid­dle-of-thenight rap con­cert at a night­club sounds like a breed­ing ground for trou­ble, dan­ger doesn’t wait for such set­tings. This shoot­ing stood out among a string of crazy/ har­row­ing/tragic events that have tran­spired in var­i­ous Lit­tle Rock area lo­cales in re­cent weeks and months.

What we need to re­mem­ber is that dan­ger doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate. It can raise its head at a fast-foot restau­rant on the “good” side of town. It can sur­face at a church dur­ing Wed­nes­day night prayer meet­ing. It can pop up in an in­ner-city park or at the Parthenon; in the ’hood or at the Helsinki Cathe­dral; in a dark, funky al­ley or at the Amalien­borg Palace.

So I’m not climb­ing onto a po­lit­i­cal, racial or re­li­gious soap box to add fuel to the heated de­bates and fin­ger-point­ing that rages on via on­line fo­rums or so­cial me­dia. I’m just adding my plea to those voices cry­ing in the wilder­ness for us to wake up, once and for all. Get off our duffs/ lau­rels. Smell the real cof­fee, not the de­caf­feinated ver­sion. And stop think­ing that just be­cause we don’t hang out with cer­tain peo­ple, at cer­tain places or in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, that we’re in­su­lated and safe.

We can all stand to:

■ Be watch­ful, and — to those who pray — be prayer­ful when shop­ping, do­ing laun­dry, pump­ing gas, va­ca­tion­ing, hav­ing din­ner with friends, par­ty­ing, at­tend­ing Sun­day ser­vices, at­tend­ing a con­cert or fes­ti­val and un­lock­ing our front door and walk­ing into our home at the end of the day. There’s noth­ing wrong with putting our pe­riph­eral vi­sion to work, stay­ing aware of our sur­round­ings, trust­ing our gut.

■ Be the nosy neigh­bor. Yes, to a de­gree we need to be Gla­dys Kravitz, the snoop­ing char­ac­ter on the old tele­vi­sion sit­com Be­witched … not to find out who they’re dat­ing/ bed­ding, or whether they’re Jone­ses we need to keep up with, but to keep a pro­tec­tive eye over our neigh­bors and their prop­erty. (There is a bal­ance.) Ide­ally, they’ll do the same for us.

■ Do what­ever we can as mem­bers of our vil­lage to en­sure pos­i­tive out­comes for our young peo­ple … whether it’s vol­un­teer­ing to work with a child who needs a car­ing adult in his life or drop­ping a few dol­lars in the till of an or­ga­ni­za­tion that’s help­ing youths. To ref­er­ence that old fa­ble about the woman throw­ing the beached starfish back into the ocean, we can’t save ev­ery young per­son. But, boy, if we each could help save just one, whether we have to reach across the street, across town or across the tracks.

■ Lend a help­ing hand to any adults around us who may be in need, while we’re at it.

Even in a time that seems plagued with sense­less acts of vi­o­lence, life holds prom­ise and can still be en­joyed. We just have to work more con­sciously to en­sure that en­joy­ment.

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