gun violence, evil & doing your job

We’re a selective bunch.

Selective means we pay attention to some things but not to others. We’re also inconsistent in what we pay attention to.

We pay attention to the mass shootings because they are absolutely awful. The concept of what’s “mass” has differed through the years; there currently remains no consensus definition. Best we can tell, at this point “mass” seems to equate to mass advocacy, mass opposition, and mass politicians coming out of their partisan shells to scream and shout about opportune political priorities.

The challenge is that at the heart of the mass shooting is something no one can actually regulate. Tell me: how does one control the evil residing in a human heart? In all seriousness, the motive that would make one man kill an innocent other, outside of mental illness, is evil.

But when it’s not the masses, we pay a little less attention. Why? Because again, outside of mental illness, maybe we know it’s evil. Maybe we know we can’t control it. And no maybe about it, it’s just wrong. So what do we do?

A little west of Orlando proper last week, there was a gut-wrenching shooting. This comes via Spectrum News 13, which covers the latest local news for Orlando, Daytona Beach, Melbourne and Sanford. 

There was an initial shooting Wednesday morning…

“Deputies had been at the scene earlier in the day to investigate the 11:17 a.m. discovery of a woman, later identified as 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin, who had been found shot to death in the 6100 block of Hialeah Street.

After collecting evidence, [Keith Melvin] Moses [19] was quickly identified as a suspect in the shooting, [Orange County Sheriff John] Mina said.”

Later in the afternoon, just after 4pm, there was another incident at the same scene with the same suspect involved. This time, the Spectrum News 13 crew, and a woman and child in a nearby home, were attacked. 24-year old, Spectrum News 13 reporter, Dylan Lyons, and a 9-year old girl, T’yonna Major, lost their lives. Another photojournalist was critically injured.

There are multiple angles upon which to focus, but for purposes of this piece, I want to focus on Dylan Lyons. The reporter at the scene. 24. And here’s the thing: he was just doing his job.

From one in the actual business… 

“At 4:00pm on a normal day as reporter, you’re in a station car working to finish up your story. You’re getting ready for a live shot at 5:00. You’re making some last minute changes to your script and editing the video. You’re writing a story for the website. Maybe you’re starting to plan dinner or what you might be covering the next day. 

The scene you’re at is a public space. It’s sunny out. Law enforcement cleared it earlier. You weren’t trespassing or putting yourself at risk. It should be as safe as possible. You should be going home safely soon. Simply put: You’re just doing your job.”

And yet here, in the innocence of one man’s work day, the utmost iniquity occurs. Not just the utmost — but the unthinkable.

My heart hurts. So does a trusted friend, who works in TV news. “We have targets on our backs.”

But there’s more, she poignantly shares…

“As journalists, we have a job. A job to inform the public. A job that many of us, if not all, take seriously and do our job with pride. We attack each day with new energy and a sense of who knows what. But, every time we step outside, every time I set up my camera, every new day brings a new sense of fear and danger. Danger? Yes, danger. TV news crews face danger every day…”

Friends, let’s talk about the inconvenient. Let’s talk about what can and can’t be done to curb gun violence. Let’s talk, too, about the evil that exists in some hearts… and the resulting heartbreak that consequently resides in others.

As for Dylan, he was just doing his job.