Let laws rule over claws

What do the wounding of a congressman, the shooting death of a college athlete and the purposeful death of a coyote under the wheels of a pickup have in common?

Each tragedy, in its own way, indicates a need for societal anger management.

Rep. Steve Scalise R-Metairie is recovering slowly from wounds inflicted on him and others during a shooting spree in Virginia. The rifle and pistol used by his now-deceased assailant, James Hodgkinson, were purchased legally. Authorities say Hodgkinson was inflamed by policies of President Donald Trump and Republicans in general, resulting in the targeting of folks gathered for baseball practice.

Jerrodd Brown, a 25-year-old athlete, was shot and killed in Ascension Parish last week, allegedly by a gun-wielding 19-year-old from Thibodaux, Joshua Harris. The shooting occurred at a party, and believed to be how Joshua Harris chose to an end an argument between his sister and Brown, a local basketball star. Police said Harris was armed not with one but two guns. His criminal history is an indication of walking risk. Attempted murder, armed robbery and battery are among prior charges.

The coyote met its end while running for its life from an unidentified pickup in a Houma parking lot after business hours. The pickup and its tires overtook the creature. It tried to struggle away as the truck, in reverse, repeated the loathsome deed. It moved forward again, ensuring death if it hadn’t occurred already. The occupants stopped to talk a photo and then sped off.

Coyotes, unlike members of congress or basketball players, are predatory and considered nuisance animals, and so a clean shot from one’s porch of an intruding canid is not illegal and by many in our community not immoral. We don’t mourn the coyote. But we mourn the lack of humanity displayed by the cretins who killed it, by their choice of weapon and their choice to repeatedly use it.

In each of these instances the object of someone’s ire suffered. In each instance someone used brute force in response to a stimulus.

We suggest that what allows someone to solve political disagreement with a gun as well as to end an argument, as well as the presence of an unpopular creature of nature, is the presence of similar sickness. On television and radio, on the pages of our social networking sites and elsewhere in the public square, vituperation is more common than ever before. Gentility is seen as weakness. Polite discourse is increasingly seen as not enough.

The trend must end.

We can disagree without hate. We can solve a crisis without creating a new one. We can stem the urge to react with violence and be peacemakers, rather than choose to shatter all semblance of peace.

It starts not at a party or the Best Buy parking lot, nor on a baseball field. By then it’s too late. It begins in our homes, with what we teach or children of the acceptable and the not, the training of ourselves and our fellows to do better. We must appeal to their and our higher natures, to encourage calm over calamity.

When a loved one responds with hate speech to a television news segment or proposes a violent resolution to even the most ridiculous societal ill, we must make it a teaching moment. And to those who might accuse us of approaching the ills of an evil world with a fragile snowflake mentality, we would say the following.

The very fact that you are scoffing at forgiveness over vengeance, that you find unacceptable the belief that a peaceful solution can always be found, then you are part of the problem. We are faced with evils in our time both from within the borders of our nation and without. Only by learning to evaluate the best response can we know we are doing our best. And the most violent response is rarely the best.

To believe otherwise is to accept that we will allow a return to the time in our evolution when the claw ruled rather than the law. To promote otherwise is to suborn the violence of which there is far too much. To believe otherwise is to allow our basest animal instincts to overcome all that is human. And we have developed too far as a society to allow that to occur.