In all the coverage of the James Holmes carnage, I keep asking myself; were I in that movie theater…would I have observed this individual, dressed in ballistics, somehow carrying quite a bit of fire power, and gas masks? Would I have considered this suspicious? If so, who would I report my suspicions to? The gangly teenager who collected my ticket at the front door? The short-fused women who sold me my popcorn?
Is it too early in the news cycle to ask this question? In our sensationalized 24/7 media news cycle we recall Virginia Tech 2007, 32 killed, 17 injured. Or Ft Hood 2009, 13 dead, 30 wounded. Now we add to the list Aurora 2012, 12 killed, 58 wounded.
In the aftermath of the Aurora carnage, we hear of police departments posting officers at places where people congregate. Add to this, fresh reminders of citizen action. Los Angeles and New York have their ‘If you see something, say something’ hotlines…by phone, by text, by email.
We know the passengers on Flight 93 2001 who wizened to the Al Qaeda operatives, foiled the terrorists’ plans at the cost of their own lives.
Somehow someway, we all need to step up to the plate, undertake the role of citizenship, observe the scene around us and know how to respond appropriately. If we are to live in a wholesome, healthy world, nothing less will do.
Ah, summer in Oregon.
I mount my bike. I spin past the farm fields of the valleys, shifting down, climbing up the north sides of hills clad in evergreen trees, descending fast down southern slopes planted in vineyards. I ride for miles and miles.
Pausing at the crest of a hill who do yonder I see but Mitt Romney, pecs glistening in the sun. He wears only running shorts, sneakers and yes, that shrewd smile of his. He flicks a finger in greeting as he acknowledges me as he passes by.
No. Surely it couldn’t be Mitt Romney…but who knows what one might see while riding a bike through the mystic Oregon countryside on a summer day. It’s Sunday. Quiet.
I pass by a church. Again, a coincidental surprise. Who was that shaking the pastor’s hand? I kid you not; it was George W. Bush. And seated outside the café at the crossroads- Gorbechev…talking with Henry K? Ho! This must be a big day in history, to see the doubles of so many prominent people as I cycle by.
What state am I in, anyway? Is it Oregon or Dehydration?
I pick up a sport drink at a market. Is the shopkeeper handing me my change Bill Clinton? He turns to stack his merchandise in the front of his store.
Then on the move again. There’s Ronald Reagan tearing down an old barn, mending a fence, riding off on his ATV, tipping his hat to me. Richard Nixon boards a Cessna on a grassy field. He’s heading west, the gas station attendant tells me.
Jimmy Carter talks to some migrants at a camp. I stop by the side of the road to refill my water bottle at a farm stand disbelieving everything I see.
Who is that, working out in the hazel tree orchard, scraping the ground, preparing for the harvest? The mannerism, the deportment of the man. He looks familiar. He raises his hand to wave. Good lord, it’s the President! Barack Obama—
Now admittedly the bike is a marvelous machine, bringing the rider closer to the countryside, much more so than in a car. Yet have I become too familiar with my country, expecting to see, yea seeing, so many luminaries out shirt sleeves rolled up toiling away under a now very hot sun? But no, isn’t it what we would expect to see, our Presidents hard at work just like you and me?