Sniper makes us realize life is fragile

In the last 14 days, have you mowed a lawn? Filled your
automobile’s gas tank? Loaded purchases into a car? Walked to a
school? In the last two weeks, I’ve done all the things the victims
of the self-appointed executioner in the Washington, D.C.-area were
doing when shot. It’s likely you’ve done many of those things,
too.
In the last 14 days, have you mowed a lawn? Filled your automobile’s gas tank? Loaded purchases into a car? Walked to a school? In the last two weeks, I’ve done all the things the victims of the self-appointed executioner in the Washington, D.C.-area were doing when shot. It’s likely you’ve done many of those things, too.

By now we’re all aware that the simple ability to go about our daily lives without fear is a blessing we’ve taken for granted. No more.

Post-Sept. 11, Americans are once again aware of realities people in many parts of the world – Israel, Beirut, Northern Ireland, Bosnia – have already recognized: that life is too precious to take for granted for even one moment.

As I pumped gasoline in my car Monday, I noticed that the gas station I was patronizing was nowhere near a freeway on-ramp. I chose the station because it was nearby when my gas gauge dipped below my comfort zone and because its prices were low. But I’m forced to wonder, will the day come when I choose a gas station because a sniper would have a hard time escaping after hunting his latest victim?

Will the day come when I’m not comfortable walking my children the half-block to their neighborhood school?

Will the day come when the baggers at Nob Hill Foods require bulletproof vests and hazardous-duty pay to load my groceries into my car?

Will the day come when I choose not to mow my lawn because I fear for my life, rather than because I don’t feel like doing it?

These are things over which I have no control. A madman thinks he is God, and we can only hope the

authorities catch him before he strikes again.

One thing I can control is my reaction to the situation. I choose to savor the everyday, the mundane, the things I sometimes grumble about.

Rather than wishing I didn’t need to run to the grocery store, I will be thrilled that I can shop for my produce and kitty litter without a police escort. Rather than gripe that my gas tank is low, I’ll be thankful that I can fill ‘er up without a Guardian Angel by the pump. And rather than whine about the grass needing yet another trim, I’ll revel in the fresh air and safety I enjoy.

For now, my children can walk to school in relative safety, fearing only the drivers who don’t know how to read a speed-limit sign or obey a crossing guard.

I can’t imagine what must go wrong in a human being’s psyche to bring him to the place where he can kill innocent people with no more concern about their deaths than he’d give to squashing a cockroach.

I don’t even want to speculate on the depths of evil to which a soul must sink in order to ruthlessly hunt his fellow man with such apparent planning and forethought, but without any visible regard for the mayhem he creates for his victims’ family, friends and society at large.

I can’t conceive of the outsize power trip the sniper must be on right now, with millions of Washington, D.C.-area citizens living in fear, and thousands of members of the news media and local, state and federal law enforcement officials at his beck and call.

I hope that at some point before he dies – whether it’s from a law enforcement bullet, suicide, natural causes after decades in prison or lethal injection – the sniper has a moment of epiphany and knows that although he thought he was God, he was, in fact, merely a coward.

So, as is my nature, I look for a silver lining, and appreciation for the gloriously mundane parts of life is the silver lining I’ve found. But even as I go about my daily life with newly renewed gratitude, the nagging question remains: will the day come?

Lisa Pampuch is the former city editor of The Dispatch. She lives in Morgan Hill with her husband and two children. You can reach her at [email protected]

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