Listen up. Some of my friends, who know the daddy's history as a counselor, asked his opinion about Michael McClendon, the man who killed his family members and others in Alabama. Here is a description of what occurred from Hulig News, a daily newspaper in Hickory, North Carolina:
"Among the dead were several relatives of Michael McClendon, including his mother and McClendon himself, but authorities still no motive for the seeming rampage that spread across the small towns of Kinston, Samson and Geneva.
The spree first began in late afternoon in Kinston. Michael McClendon burned down his mother's home, where his mother's body was eventually found. At that point McClendon then went to nearby Samson and shot both his grandparents, aunt and uncle.
The wife and 18-month-old child of a Geneva County sheriff's deputy were then killed; the two had reportedly stopped to visit a neighbor.
Michael McClendon then got into his car and began driving around the tiny town, randomly shooting through the car window. Three more people were shot in this manner.
McLendon ended up at Reliable Metal Products factory in Geneva, where he exchanged shots with police before killing himself."Background
First, this is a story about guns. When are we going to stop allowing the NRA (the National Rifle Association) to keep guns accessible in this country? When is our federal government going stop enabling the proliferation by allowing guns to be purchased on the spot at gun shows and in parking lots in metropolitan areas all across the country? If you ask them, they say they don't have the personnel, but the real deal is that NRA lobbists have paid off politicians so that they don't make dealing in death a priority. We should not support politicians that get a penny from the NRA or sit silently while people in our communities die from handguns.
Second, this is a story about people. People with guns kill people, usually the people closest to them. When Americans kill, they kill their wives, their best friends (sometimes over things that are trivial or meaningless), and thier "homies" with whom they play ball or hang out.
They kill coworkers, people with whom they spend 8 hours almost every day. And they kill those with whom they have attached so much love, so much companionship, so many hopes and dreams. That's why this is not just a gun issue. It's also about the dynamics of trying to survive or thrive in a country where those with wealth or riches, however ruthlessly acquired, are viewed primarily as winners and those who are not are viewed primarily as losers, however moral, hardworking, and honest they may be.
The rich, the poor
This is a story about how the rich treats the poor. Today, greedy and immoral bankers and mortgage insurers, who are mostly responsible for creating this bad economy, get more money to visit fancy resorts and health spas as many hard working, honest and community-loving Americans struggle. And those under severe stress, those who have lost jobs and homes, or who are about to, are viewed as "losers" unable to take care of family and home-- people not smart (or ruthless) enough to succeed. So the financial crisis on Wall Street hits main street, causing working people to pay more for health insurance, food, clothing, gas-- causing many to lose their jobs and their homes. And guess who is blamed for it? The poor and those made poor by bankers and mortgage insurers. So while the paycheck gets smaller and smaller and the bills get larger and larger, the idea persists in America that, if you cannot keep your head above, if you cannot "swim with the sharks," it's not the deepness of the ocean or the toxidity of the water. You're just unable to swim with the big white boys.
McClendon and the rest of us
This is story about the rich and the poor in Amrica. It is the story of Michael McClendon. Some say his actions were senseless, but I'm not so sure. You see, just because you or the daddy can't fathom committing such acts does not in itself mean that those acts were senseless, at least from McClendon's point of view. He tried to be a cop, but for whatever reason, that didn't work out. So he found a job. He got in trouble with his supervisor and perhps others on the job. He tried to move on.
But what if this "loser" found no job to move on to? What if he realized that, in the very near future, he would not be able to take care of his family? What if the very thought of being a "loser" meant that he may have to humiliate himself and his family by going on welfare?
What if he were so angry at the way he was treated on the job he left a few days earlier, and the previous jobs he had, that it placed him in a psychological state of depression where he fluctuated between anger and sadness? And what if no amount of alcohol or drugs from a pharmacy could adequately medicate this overwhelming pain?
The point here is not to make a victim of McClendon but understand his actions, however painful that may be for us to do. The point is not to make excuses but to seek explanations with an eye toward lessening the the chances that such a tragedy will occur again.
The daddy says we have two choices: We can ignore McClendon's actions as nothing than an aberration from a man who "lost it" or challenge ourselves to better understand how certain populations or classes respond to stress, especially during times of economic crises.
The daddy says, ultimately, we need to ask: Is there a bit of Michael McClendon in all of us?