Death in Charlottesville

A vehicular homicide case near the intersection of Fourth and Water streets in Charlottesville, Virginia, is international news.

I regret the loss of life, particularly since the driver apparently intended to harm or kill the victims. I’ll get back to that.

Heather Heyer had been with several other folks there, protesting something — or maybe someone — which or who she felt should be inspiring more outrage.

During the protest, someone drove a car into another vehicle, and into the protestors. 19 were injured, five critically. Heather Heyer died.

“…Heather D. Heyer, 32, a Charlottesville resident who police say was crossing the road at the time, died of her injuries after being rushed to the hospital….”
(CBS News (August 13, 2017))

A young man who apparently was driving the car has been arrested. He’s been charged with second degree murder. That seems reasonable.

Two Virginia State Troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and trooper Berke M.M. Bates, had been on their way to Carlottesville. They died when their helicopter crashed.

Oddly enough, almost none of the news has been about Heather Heyer, and not much about the young man who apparently killed her.

Much of it seems to be about why we should blame some politico or another. Where we’re supposed to focus our anger depends on which news outlet I look at.

Trusting Emotions: Within Reason

It would be nice if news services would focus more on facts and less on emotion.

But that’s not going to happen. Not any time soon, judging from what I’ve seen over the last half-century.

There’s nothing wrong with emotions. Experiencing them is part of being human. But so is using logic. I should think before I act or speak. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1951, 1730, 17631767)

I’ve learned that my emotions don’t give good advice. (January 11, 2017; October 5, 2016)

However, emotions may show that something requires attention. After that, my job is thinking about how I should respond. Or not respond. (Catechism, 1763, 1765, 1767)

This isn’t 1967

Quite a few events happened 50 years ago this summer. Some remember it as the Summer of Love, others as the long hot summer of 1967.

I remember it as a year when some of us were working or hoping for long-overdue reforms. Others were increasingly frustrated in their efforts to preserve crumbling social conventions.

I wasn’t the craziest of ‘those crazy kids.’ But I thought we could do better.1

I still do. (May 21, 2017; August 11, 2017)

Heather Heyers and others had been protesting a protest held by another outfit.

She lived in Charlottesville. The fellow who apparently killed her is from Ohio. But nobody, as far as I know, has said that the focus of Heyer’s protest were “outside agitators” whose goal was to “rile up” folks in Charlottesville.

Maybe we’ve learned a little wisdom since 1967.2

The folks at the protest which Heather Hayers and others were counter-protesting apparently don’t like what’s been happening in America.

I’m not overly thrilled, myself, with the status quo. Many of our new social conventions are, I think, very unsatisfactory.

But I am convinced that the answer is not reviving injustices that we were correcting in the 1960s. My memory is too good to want the ‘good old days’ to return. Ever.

Love: It’s Simple, Not Easy

The basics are simple. I should love God, love my neighbors, and see everybody as my neighbor. Everybody. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31 10:2527, 2937; Catechism, 1789)

Valuing human life is also a good idea. All human life, including folks who aren’t considered fit to live, or insufficiently human, by my culture’s standards. (Catechism, 2258, 2267, 2270, 2277)

Like I said, experiencing emotions is part of being human.

They’re not good or bad by themselves. I’d be concerned if I didn’t feel anger or at least aversion in response to the weekend murder in Charlottesville. (Catechism, 1765, 1767)

Murder, deliberately killing another person, is a bad idea. I shouldn’t even cherish anger, hatred, or a desire for vengeance. (Catechism, 2261, 2262, 23022303)

Deciding whether an action is good or bad can be important. I’m expected to think about what I do, and the actions of others. But judging persons as “good” or “evil?” I must leave that to God. (Catechism, 1778, 1861, 24012449)

Deciding what I should do about emotions, instead of letting them direct me, isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s very hard. But it’s a good idea.

Reasons for Hope

I think we are nearly 22 years closer to building “the civilization of love” St. John Paul II talked about. (August 11, 2017; May 28, 2017; May 7, 2017)

Since I also think it will take centuries, maybe millennia, to cobble together a close approximation of his dream — we are not much closer.

But we are closer.

I see reasons for hope in how many folks respond to irresponsible acts of violence. This sort of thing isn’t, apparently, international news:

‘Come see who we are’: Community members urge hope after Islamic center blast
Doualy Xaykaothao, MPR News (August 7, 2017)

“…’In Minnesota, we accept one another, we support one another, we respect one another,’ said [Minnesota Governor] Dayton. ‘We live together, we work together, we succeed together. And we’re not going to let one bad person get in the way of all that.’…

“‘They come Sundays, they come to play soccer in our fields,’ said Omar. ‘Every time you come, day, or night, there is activity going on.’…”

Community support builds for Bloomington Islamic center
KARE (August 6, 2017)

“On Sunday evening, members of Pax Christi Catholic Church in Eden Prairie delivered in a basket more than 200 handwritten notes of support to the Dar Al-Farooq Center….”

I’ve talked about love, hope, and why I think cautious optimism makes sense, before:


1 Remembering 1967:

2 More about what happened in Charlottesville, and in 1967:

About Brian H. Gill

I’m a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I’m only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.

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2 Responses to Death in Charlottesville

  1. Manny says:

    Good post Brian. Emotions everywhere. Sometimes it’s best to let the idiots have their march and not make a fuss over it. No one would have heard their message. The counter protesting just elevated their voice, and the tragedy spread the message across the country, if not the world. I’m not blaming the victim. Her heart was certainly in the right place. Peace.

Thanks for taking time to comment!