As I was driving to my grandmother's house today, I went past a house that always brings to mind a night from high school I will never forget. I grew up in a very rural community consisting of lots of farms and wooded areas. There are many backcountry roads and houses are spread far apart. It was on one of these roads where the incident occurred....kind of in the middle of nowhere.
I was a cheerleader, and my squad began a tradition of decorating the senior players and coaches houses for Homecoming. We wanted this to be a surprise, so we did the decorating after midnight so they would wake up to it the morning of the big game. This was probably our second or third year of doing this, so by now we figured most people expected it. Well we were wrong about that.
There were four of us. We had already done a couple of houses and went to the house of one of the assistant coaches to decorate. The house was one of the only ones on the road; there were no other houses in sight from this location. We parked the car on the road, and innocently began putting up streamers, balloons, and a sign in the trees beside the house. We were trying to be quiet about it, but apparently not quiet enough. Suddenly we hear "Come out with your hands up!" We stopped what we were doing and stood looking at each other. Someone yelled again. We meekly made our way to the front of the house and there on the porch is an older man in his underwear pointing a shotgun at us. Clearly we had woken him up, and he was none too happy. So the four of us are standing there, dressed in jeans and our varsity jackets, hands in the air filled with balloons and streamers, trying to explain to a very angry man what we were doing. I wish I had a picture of this sight, it seems hilarious to me now, but we were scared out of our wits at the time. We were finally able to convince him that we meant no harm and he demanded we leave; which we did without hesitation.
We drove away and pulled off the road when we were out of sight of the house. I don't know how long we sat there trying to calm our nerves. I know my heart was pounding and I was shaking like a leaf. We thought perhaps we had the wrong address. We came to find out later, the house was actually the parents of the assistant coach, and he lived in an apartment in the back of the house. We were lucky his father didn't shoot first and ask questions later. As is typical of small towns, the news of this spread quickly and fortunately was something many were laughing about by game time.
My heart aches today, not only for the people of Paris, but for the world we live in. A world that has gone mad. There seems to be no end to the senseless acts of violence perpetrated against innocent people. Over 120 people lost their lives, simply because they went out to enjoy living them. They were doing the things we all do on any given day, without giving it a second thought. They had no agendas or motives; they simply wanted to watch a concert, go shopping, catch a soccer match, or enjoy drinks and a meal. It is so difficult to understand the kind of hatred and extremism that would cut these lives short. It is also frightening to know this could happen at any time, at any place, any where in the world. It is crazy this is still happening in this day and age.
Why does it continue to matter what color a person's skin is, what faith they believe in, who they choose to love, what gender they choose to identify with? We are all human. We all breath, we have jobs, we have families. We live, we love, we hurt. How hard is it, really, to respect someone whether you agree with them or not?
Would anyone out there truly want to change a world full of diversity? I wouldn't want to live in a world where everyone believes in the same thing and looks the same way. I would find that so boring! People have stories; we can learn from each other, laugh with each other, cry with each other. A rose is just as beautiful as a lily, or an orchid, or any other type of flower. Think of how much beauty we would be missing if all we ever saw was the rose.
Every life in the world has meaning. Every life in the world matters.
These are my thoughts, personal stories, and personal opinions. Often triggered by something that transpires throughout the course of a day.
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