Highland Park, IL, July 4th, 2022, Divisions

In the past few years, I have often marveled at the luck that we have had in escaping some things that many others have found at their back doors. I have often wondered when the proverbial shoe was going to drop and that we would find ourselves confronted with issues and problems that seem to plague so many others. Doing the right thing, being good human beings, albeit fraught with regular human imperfections is no guarantee that catastrophes will not occur. Some people slide through life and avoid things, but so many of us do not. As Frank Bruni has put it so eloquently in his book, The Beauty of Dusk, if only we wore sandwich boards telling others what horrors we may have lurking in our bodies and minds, presents and pasts, others would know what we are dealing with…in the end, we are all victims of problems and they spare pretty much no one.

We need to have empathy for others and care for them. Current life seems so polka dotted with a mean spirit and nasty treatment of others.

So, after a Pandemic and the myriad of issues that it brought and provoked, the other night, Sunday, as a matter of fact, we were at the Ravinia Music Festival. As we sat in a relatively crowded area, setting up the picnic that our son and his wife were going to join, I pondered a mass shooting there. Given the world of hatred, racism, mistrust, blue and red, fake news, lying, paranoia, etc., it occurred to me that such a thing could happen. It did not happen that night as we enjoyed the Beatles Music and the Chicago Philharmonic, but it did happen in our back yard, Highland Park, the following day. Seventy some rounds of bullets shooting into a July 4th parade crowd from a perch on top of a building in a location that we frequent all the time is a wake up call that something is seriously wrong with our society. Even more, as someone reminded us, “…that happens in Englewood every night and do you hear the outcry that is now occurring in the media?” It is true…affluent people in a beautiful area who are also whiter than white dying is seemingly more important than the lives of others. In the end, all human life is equally important, period.

MK and I have discussed all of this and both agree that despite the need for better laws regarding the purchase and usage of arms, that is not the only action that needs taking. It is clear that there are serious divisions in this country. It is clear to me that our previous president unleashed the racism, hatred, bigotry, and a strange form of paranoid thinking that continues to grow and not lessen. It is clear as well that he did things that seriously deserve criminal proceedings and somehow his teflon shield is still in place.

I am not a financial person and don’t claim to be one. I also firmly believe that the amount of money we have wasted cleaning up this and that after one mass shooting after another and after a poorly handled Pandemic could be better spent. For one, if we had a health system where no one fell through the cracks, overall, after a time, we would most assuredly be spending less money and we would be better cared for. If we opened up opportunities and made sure to keep everyone informed so that they could at least have some sort of post high school education, be it academic or otherwise, and preparing and placing people so that they could have jobs where they could properly support themselves and have housing, the disenfranchisement that we are feeling would dissipate. Not taking care of our citizens is a travesty, especially in a supposedly civilized country like ours. As our governor, J.B. Pritzker said in Highland Park, people deserve to be able to have the right to live and our laws should therefore move in that direction of protection.

All four of my grandchildren live in Highland Park and they deserve to be able to grow up in nice surroundings and not be fearful for their lives. People in Englewood are no less deserving. It is time we put to rest the divisions in our country and do what is best for all people. Let us move forward. I am sickened at the thought of departing this world, leaving it like this for my children, grandchildren, and all those to come.

About Richard Koerner

Seventy something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
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