Where is the America I used to know?

Where is the America I used to know?
December 10
00:00 2015
James B. Ewers Jr.
Guest  Columnist

The holiday season is upon us.  Shopping carts are full with both purchase and layaway items.  You remember layaway, don’t you?

Thanksgiving gave us time to spend with family and friends.  Some of us ate too much and watched way too much football.  Little kids were treated to watching Charlie Brown and Snoopy on television.

College students are back in school now but the Christmas break is in sight.  Elementary, middle and high school students are trying their best to sit still for an entire day.  Their teachers are providing instruction each day despite the Yuletide spirit being in the air.

All of us are familiar with all or parts of the aforementioned scenarios because that is the America we know.  Yet there is a disturbing part of America that has reared its ugly head and making an attempt to steal our joy.

A few weeks ago, a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, claimed the lives of three people, including a law enforcement officer.  Presidential candidates on both sides weighed in with their thoughts.

Bernie Sanders, Independent senator from Vermont running as a Democrat, said, “I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it’s doing.  I hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.”

Ted Cruz, Republican senator from Texas said, “Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured and first responders who bravely got the situation under control in Colorado Springs.”

Unfortunately, some of us have such strong, and, yes, unreasonable positions on issues that we resort to violence.  The families of those killed and wounded did not have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Instead they were traumatized and heartbroken by this senseless tragedy.

Some would opine that the gun issue and the abortion issue triggered this shooting.  I believe they did.  For some years now gun control and abortion have become everyone’s hot button issues.  If you want a heated exchange, just start talking about either of these issues and you will surely get one.

At the heart of both issues is personal choice and rights.  Proponents of guns say stricter gun laws take away individual rights.  Those in favor of abortions say it is a woman’s body and therefore her right to choose.

Whatever our opinion is about these issues should not result in guns being brandished and lives being lost.

Our sadness and mourning for the Colorado Springs victims was brutally interrupted by a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.  This shooting occurred on Dec. 2, and 14 people lost their lives.  More than a dozen people were injured in a shooting that took place during a holiday party at a social service center.  At the social service center were adults with special needs having holiday fun.

The shooters have been identified as a husband and wife.  They were radicalized terrorists.

Interestingly, this incident occurred just five days after the Colorado Springs shooting.  In San Bernardino, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said, “A man and a woman in the SUV with assault rifles, handguns and assault-style clothing were killed.”  Upon inspection of their home an assortment of weapons was found.

One question that is being raised is how could the killers get their hands on so many guns?  I believe it speaks to how easy it is to get guns in America today.

President Barack Obama in an address from the Oval Office on Sunday called upon Congress to make it harder to buy guns and to have stronger background checks.  Opponents of the President say this is not the answer.  Another point that gun lobbyists use is that guns kill people.   But who pulls the trigger?

These two incidents serve as a sobering backdrop to what happened in France and Africa where lives were lost because of guns and terrorism.

So what is next?  Have we as Americans become immune to mass killings in our own country?  Do we simply watch and wait until it happens again and give out more heartfelt sympathies and anguish?  As important is, have we given up hope?  I hope not.

We can’t celebrate being American and live in America if we see violence as an everyday occurrence.  Recently, one college president, Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University in Virginia, encouraged his students to carry guns.  Many of us know that is not the answer.

Maybe hearts and minds must reach rock bottom in our hurt, anger and sadness before we will do something about it.  I believe we have reached rock bottom.

For those of us who believe in the power of prayer, we must continue to pray for a world-wide deliverance and healing.  We know God will do His part.  The question is will we do our part?

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C Smith University where he was all-conference for four years.

He is the President Emeritus of The Teen Mentoring Committee of Ohio and a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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