We had swat, snipers, the whole shebang. A man had been fired from a company in the area and had locked himself in his car in a parking lot down the street. He had a gun. His aim was suicide.
I just read the news report a few minutes ago and was dismayed to learn he had succeeded in his goal. And that knowledge made the event even more surreal for me. We had treated this man as a spectacle all day. We watched out our windows and took video of the snipers getting in position. On their breaks our employees stood in the street, phones out, recording this man's suffering.
I myself couldn't help but laugh every time someone had to explain over the phone why our street was blocked off. Snipers? How ridiculous is that?
Turns out not very. Even while I laughed at the situation I realized how awful it was. Suicide is not something to be taken lightly. A life is a life. Yet sometimes we don't see it that way.
People were complaining that they couldn't go out and get lunch, we were concerned that we wouldn't be able to get home at a decent time if we were trapped. Turns out we did have a path out, if not back in, so most of those complaints were unfounded.
When I left for the day and followed the points and waving hands to get around the cordoned off area I couldn't help but notice the crowds. People parked on a nearby overpass, lined up against the fence, gawking. I had to ask myself why? What is it that allows us, or even demands us, to watch something so potentially horrible? Why is it we have to look for the blood in the water? I wish I knew.
I didn't know the man. I don't even know his name now. I can honestly say I would probably still be laughing about the situation if he had not followed through on his threats, I'm kind of a bastard like that. Unfortunately, he did follow through. And that forces me to do something that no one likes to do, and that's consider my own mortality.
I hope I never sink to a level of despair where that option seems the most appealing. I hope no one reading this ever considers it. I would never judge if that were the case. I have no right to do so. I don't know the pain of any person other than myself. Just like I don't know what was going through that man's mind today.
I know this may not be the most exciting post ever, but I had a point I wanted to make. One I know I don't put into practice enough. It's a simple one: Be good to each other. Be kind, be understanding, be all those things that deep down we all know we should be.
If you have to look for the bleeding in the world, don't just watch. Apply pressure to the wound. Make some one's day a little brighter, their life a little easier.
I'll say it once more: Let us be good to each other.