One of the more important lessons my mother has taught me in my 35 years on this earth is, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
I hope this explains my hiatus for the last few weeks.
A few weeks ago, I sort of hit a wall regarding the state of our own humanity.
Sadly, the month ended and began with two acts of terrorism and, quite frankly, I’ve been a mixed bag of emotions about it all.
The Las Vegas shootings took the wind out of my sails. I couldn’t help but watch the footage and newsfeed of the utter chaos. Call it an occupational hazard, but I put myself in their shoes. It was a country music festival featuring some of the most entertaining musicians, many I have seen several times. I remember calling my best friend The Queen and we just mulled the events over in shock. Heck, had I known this festival was going on, we very likely could have attended. Vegas, country music, cheap flights? It was our kind of scene. And 58 people and more than 500 people left dead or wounded.
Thousands of people were attacked while having a carefree evening out on the Las Vegas strip. It was all so senseless.
I had no words.
And then there was the Oct. 31 terror attack on the bike lane in Manhattan, again, I had no words. Families and New Yorkers were out taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather only to fall victim to another senseless act of violence.
Yet, thankfully, the news and media dug deep to find the triumphant stories of heroes. People who loaded strangers onto trucks, taxis or tended to wounds, were featured throughout the news cycles and the sprinkled throughout the continuous updates. Couples shared stories of how their loved ones shielded them from the spray of gunfire which seemingly came out of nowhere.
A local connection was the young man from Piqua, Austin Cox. Cox, a 2011 graduate of Piqua High School, is a corporal serving in the United States Marine Corps and is stationed at Camp Pendleton, California.
Cox and another Marine were at the Jason Aldean concert, part of the Route 91 music festival, in Las Vegas, when gunfire broke out. Cox and his friend ran towards the gunfire to help people, including a young woman who was shot in the shoulder and neck. They jumped in a civilian’s car, which took them to the nearest hospital. The young lady survived thanks to Cox. A solider was rescuing fellow Americans on our own soil while he was off-duty.
And it’s that kind of stories that restores our faith in humanity. As one person tries to destroy our spirits, another is there trying to build them back up. It’s so hard to explain these types of incidents to your 13-year-old son. I think that’s the hardest part in all of this.
I, like many others, am so angry — at the gunman, at the hotel staff, even at bystanders who thought it was the show’s fireworks going off, the poor Home Depot rental guy who rented this guy that truck. Frankly, I’m tired of being #(Fill in the City of the latest disaster)Strong. #VegasStrong, #HoustonStrong, #NapaValleyStrong.
I find myself being extra vigilant whether it is at the park, in the movie theater or out to eat. As I watched “The Andy Griffith Show” with my parents and Evan, I laughed at the sight of a young Opie in his cowboy get-up, running inside his house with his six-shooter swinging from his holster. Those days are long gone, aren’t they?
Yet, I keep focusing on the positive stories amid the horrific accounts of those who made it out alive.
Like I’ve said in columns before, we all have to pick up the pieces and remember what Mr. Rogers told us: Look for the helpers.
And in this case, look for the heroes.
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News.