The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Live Fully, Not in Fear


March 31, 2021

The shooting at a Colorado grocery store is tragic. 

That we should all agree on. It is tragic to start with because any violent loss of life has more than one victim, for a time at least.  It is socially tragic because assaults in public places continue to strip away the sense of safety in society. 

We can dissect the situation by gender, political ideology, race, anger issues, religion, or even gun availability. Any one of these issues leaves many questions unanswered. Maybe incidents like this will go on without all of the questions answered.

As is always the case, the immediate questions included is the community safe, how many shooters were involved in the incident, what was the motive. Interestingly, this time I did not hear the questions of motive. What I am hearing is the renewed cry for gun control, not too far behind the report of the assailant using an “AR-15 style” weapon. 

Now, if I enter a store, or conversely I’m in a store, and I recognize someone carrying more firepower than the average person should need, I will take note. I won’t automatically lose my cool. I want to know where that person as I would if a person walked by with an appearance not quite normal. It isn’t profiling. It is being aware of my environment.

As uncomfortable as it might be, carrying is a Constitutionally affirmed right. It is uncomfortable because of the incidents when gun ownership and use were abused. It is uncomfortable because of the headlines dividing the issue between political stance, moral structure and a desire for social safety. However, it is wise to recognize what is going on around you. Know your environment as a first level of defense. Personal safety starts before visiting a pawn shop and gun dealer. 

Defense, security starts by knowing your surroundings. There’s the joke about the guy who brought a knife to a gunfight. I wonder how he would have been equipped had he known there were men with guns at the corral, or wherever it happened. 

I wonder how many people walk into a store so laser-focused on their mission they don’t see who is at the doorway. How often do you fuel your vehicle, the hose connected to the tank and you’re in the car trolling some social media platform? Meanwhile, how many people walked by? Who was at the other side of the fuel island? 

The uncomfortable reality is we live in a world where evil exists. There are people who by mental issues or by pure evil wake up in the morning bent on death and destruction. They are the ones who make law enforcement a necessity. They are the ones who can look like the star of a bad movie, or like an average citizen. The difference? How does a person act? Does he or she act in a way to set off your internal warning? 

The real balancing act is to live cautiously, but not fearfully. It is a tightrope experience in some places. We ought to live as it is said, “as gentle as lambs, as wise as serpents.” Value each day as your whole of existence was contained in that 24-hour period. Each sunrise, no matter how stressing, is a blessing.

It is one more day to influence the world around us. It is a chance to build our legacy. The legacy can occur no matter the age. There are student victims of shootings whose story continues to influence years after their departure, and there are those who can’t forget a poorly chosen word a generation ago. 

Live fully, with your eyes wide open. Know your environment. Recognize threats and assets. Live confidently, not fearfully.


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