Sometimes tragedies occur that shock everyone and leave us thinking, How Nancy Oatescould this happen? Such a moment came a few weeks ago in Chapel Hill, when 14-month-old Maleah Williams was shot in her mother’s arms in front of her home on Christmas Day.

It’s human nature to want to find a cause when catastrophes befall, because we think if we knew what caused them, we might find a way to prevent another horrific event from happening in the future. But life doesn’t work that way. Certainly Maleah’s mother couldn’t have done anything differently. What could be safer for a child than cuddling in her mother’s arms?

Neither could the police department have increased its presence enough to prevent this shooting. No one wants to live in a police state with officers patrolling the streets, guns at the ready every time a car drives by. Even stricter gun control, something I strongly support, likely would have been no deterrent in this crime.
Sometimes it feels we have precious little control over what fate hands us. Yet we can’t live our lives in fear, braced for the next bad thing.

As a mother, I can’t imagine the pain Maleah’s family is in right now. I can’t fathom the grief of the families of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha; and Feng Liu; and Eve Carson.

Much as we’d like to go back in time and change the fate of all of these victims of senseless violence, all we can do is offer our presence so their families won’t be alone in the darkness of grief, our desire to stand firm so the survivors have people to lean on when life feels too hard to go on.

The police took suspects into custody quickly, and I have confidence the court system will do its job. We, as a community, must turn our attention to what we must do to support the families of the victims and all families, so that little boys don’t grow up to become men with such anger and hatred in their hearts that they are capable of murder.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. plurimus

     /  January 11, 2016

    Unseasonable Christmas
    In her mother’s loving arms
    Don’t know what to say

    Human potential
    Lives full of promise and hope
    Gone in a moment

    So many lives hurt
    Bullets cannot be unfired
    No amount of sorry works