Restoring stability in our lives
Like everyone I spoke to when I heard the news of the homicides in our lovely, mountain shadowed community, I was alarmed, crushed in spirit and afraid. Our shadow became more like a shroud of insecurity. The remorse for those who lost their lives and for their families combined with the dread and concern over the possibility of yet another murder to haunt our thoughts. It hovered over our actions as we deliberated how to be safe. Its uneasy heaviness loomed everywhere with uncertainty and a disconcerting sense of directionless alarm.
I conversed with many as we processed our emotions and clarified our understanding. But I found I stopped having to vocalize to fellow citizens to share the worry and search for solutions. The prevalence of concern over the deaths was so keenly present that simple eye contact expressed support and confessed the mutual grief we shared. There was a natural downcast to our eyes as that contact broke and we took the next step forward in our respective directions. It was as if to say that is all we knew to do….just keep going. But, as we did so, we were a little bit stronger for the encounter with each other and in knowing that we were not alone in our concern. On an afternoon filled with errands, this visual dialogue repeated often and everywhere I went.
The connectivity I experienced that afternoon along with the presence of law enforcement observed often throughout the week contributed to the beginning of a restored sense of stability for me. While the various sheriff and investigative agencies continued their search and confirmation of suspect and evidence, I felt my search needed to be for character and concrete preventative action.
Death is inevitable. But sudden, rudely suffered death is particularly bitter. Human life treated as prey is distasteful and defies normal comprehension. Targeting the aging and elderly who enjoy independent living grieves my soul. Finding predatory strength in the vulnerability of others stands out as a glaring contradiction of value to our normally considerate and tight-knit neighborhoods. Violent homicide is not our norm.
We are not a community where theft is necessary to survive. The variety of outreach to struggling members of this community is impressive. Douglas County Social Services, The Food Closet, FISH aka Friends in Service Helping, Douglas County Mental Health Services, and the abundance of churches offer significant outreach opportunities for material and emotional help. One only has to reach out to the outreach. Like a handshake, two hands have to -extend…the one in need and the one with help. Hopefully, they can connect.
But, even with all of that, the possibility of what has occurred will always exist. To take from the Bible, we should be as wise and shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. It is one thing to vocally vent. It is one thing to defend ourselves. But, I rest more secure in a community where innocence is the standard rather than violence like that of the perpetrator. We can be wise with Neighborhood Watch networking and signs that declare it. We can be shrewd by installing home security systems or motion-activated lighting fixtures. The lighting will not only deter intruders but is kind to the electric bill and pocketbook.
Though sorrow-filled over the events that created such community connectivity, I am comforted by the way neighbors came together in a crisis. I am hope-filled when seniors link arms to posture against fear as they did at the memorials. Whether neighbors who are well-known by each other, newly acquainted, nearby, miles apart, scheduled for an appointment or haphazardly encountered, as neighbors we rallied and bonded. I am proud to say that I live in a community that responds to threat with integrity and strength of character. I am proud to say, “I live in Douglas County.”
Kellye Chapman is a Minden resident.