"The faces of evil come in every color. We must be prepared for all possibilities, not just the ones that play to ... preconceived notions."
- Columnist Michelle Malkin
Connie and Les are great Americans, super friends and, with the possible exception of myself, the proudest grandparents I know. Before retirement Les was an executive with AT&T, and Bonnie held down the fort at a local law office. Now they spend their time traveling, renovating their house, and indulging their hobbies almost as much as they do the grandkids.
From time to time Les does a little writing, while he waits to hear if he'll have another supporting role in a feature Hollywood movie. He's already appeared with William Hurt, Gina Davis and Jessica Lange, and he was a regular on the television show, "Homicide: Life on the Street," a few seasons ago. Bonnie, the creative one, sells her handmade jewelry at craft shows, and does her own interior decorating after Les puts the paintbrushes away.
I met Les at a writing conference 20 years ago when we both were budding writers. We even collaborated a few times, he composing the lyrics and I the music for some of the best songs we thought we'd ever heard. Our Easter anthem has been sung a couple of times - once in his church and once in mine - but we haven't had any success with the one song we know would make a dandy movie theme, if we just had the clout to get it heard.
From time to time we've visited in each other's homes - they when they're en route to Hilton Head or other points south, and I whenever I'm in or around D.C.
They live in Maryland, just north of the nation's Capital. In Montgomery County.
"Yes," Bonnie wrote in a recent e-mail message, "we are in the thick of things up here, and very frightened. One of the sniper's first victims was shot two miles from our house."
She asked for my prayers, which I promised in my reply. Yesterday, Les sent the following:
"Thanks for your prayers and concern. We never thought we would see the day when leaving your house to go to the store and gas station would be considered acts of bravery."
Meanwhile, as a myriad of law enforcement agencies combine efforts to stop this murderous rampage, have you noticed all the analysis and advice offered by those who have nothing to do with the case at all?
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner is sure the shooter is "a single, white male in his 20s." Brian Levin, director of "The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism," agrees, while adding that the killer "is a kind of wallpaper, disenfranchised, white male who's getting back at society." Then there is the growing suspicion that the sniper could be a non-white, Muslim extremist with ties to Osama bin Laden.
We may wonder why all these "experts" are so sure of their facts, or why so many are going public with their views. But they, and most likely the rest of us, are guessing, theorizing, and talking non-stop about the sniper because, at a time of shared outrage, we have to do something and that's the only thing we can do. That's why, after 9-11, we all waved flags.
National Public Radio commentator Daniel Shore reminds us that, though the United States is the strongest nation on earth, and likely will win the anticipated war against Iraq, none of our military might has been able to stop a presumed lone gunman from terrorizing the suburbs of our nation's Capital.
If there was one responsibility I took seriously as a parent, it was making sure our family had good dental care. We brushed faithfully, limited sweets, and had regular check-ups at the dentist. But even the best of care couldn't keep one of our sons from falling off his bike and breaking off a chunk of his sparkling white, calorie-free front tooth.
Even our best isn't always enough. Sometimes it helps to talk, too.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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