This afternoon, I drove to the local Agway for birdseed. It’s a store I’ve gone to for decades, only a few miles from our house.
The store was calm and friendly, as always.
I found the bags I needed and paid for them, chatting amiably with the cashier, as always.
A normal day. An easy day.
As I was loading the bags into my car, I heard a man screaming and cursing at someone across the parking lot.
I immediately looked for where the man was and judged how I could hide from gunfire.
I didn’t need to see the gun. There was the automatic acceptance that he was likely carrying one.
And it was unconscious reflex, instinctive.
It didn’t need a jolt of terror to galvanize me into action.
It was simply the now-given idea of “angry man = gun = murder” that can be the fatal equation anywhere, at any time.
No one, nowhere, and no time is exempt.
This is what America has become.
Don’t ask me how to fix it. The voices screaming for gun laws are drowned out in devilish glee by the gunrights lobby, the StormTrumpers, the Christian Nationalists and the White Supremacists.
Their mantra? When Ideas can’t win, you can always kill the opposition.
But this is also why I tell all my friends in other countries: don’t come here. No matter what. We are no longer safe — and you won’t be either.
It may take decades, and a different generation, to pull the guns out of the hands of the madmen.