Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Choice to Not Live in Fear

Bear with my while I take a turn into some darker subject matter — real life stuff.

Recently, there was a home invasion in my neighborhood.

Two assailants, one of whom had a gun, broke into a house in which a husband and wife were home.

Anywheres-ville USA. If it can happen here.....
This crime was part three of a troika of burglaries these two geniuses committed that day.

Earlier that morning they held a 90-year old woman at gunpoint before moving on to another home and then making their way a few miles down the road to my neighborhood. 

Some background: I live in your typical suburban spread. Three and four-bedroom homes with two-car garages.

We have block parties, neighbors exchange hellos and cross the street to talk about their kids and when the next yard waste collection is scheduled.

Folks keep their yards tidier than me and kids run all over the place.

In general, life here is exactly what one expects from a city that's frequently ranked as one of the best in which to reside in the United States. 

Yes, crime is low here in Madison, Wisconsin. So the fact that we had a break-in near our home was a surprise. The fact that it was a home invasion was downright shocking. 

Now, the rest of the story. 

It was mid-morning on a weekday when these two idiots committed their crimes, a time of day when most people are at work. 

The assailants' point of entry was a garage — which was occupied by two cars. That's a crucial point since one might draw the logical conclusion that a full garage could indicate someone is home.

These two geniuses must have thought that the residents of the home rode skateboards to work because they chose to enter the home anyway. 

Long story short, the morons picked the home of a man who is apparently in the midst of training to be a police officer. Naturally, this man also owns a gun. Just as naturally, he got that gun when he heard people breaking into his home. Also just as naturally, his wife locked herself in the bedroom and called 911.

Outside that bedroom door, a struggle ensued. At least one shot was fired; no one was hurt.

One of the geniuses bailed out on this masterplan and ran away. Meanwhile his partner was held at gunpoint by the homeowner until police responded to the wife's 911 call.

Two intruders. Two guns. Shots fired? These are the building blocks for a tragedy

It's scary stuff and it could have played out much, much differently. And it all happened in my neighborhood.

I'm not sure what it's like to have your home broken into but, I'm pretty sure it's worlds less scary than being home when a man breaks in with a gun. Who knows how that works?

This is just the kind of worry that could keep me up at night, lesser concerns certainly have. But I'm not scared and neither is Mrs. Blackwell. 

Concerned? Yes. Scared. No.

Mrs. Blackwell and I take precautions. We try to be aware and smart about how we secure our home, so we take some solace in that.

The alternative is to retreat with my family behind locked doors and drawn curtains, to live and act out of fear, to let it consume us and shape our lives.

If everyone in my neighborhood goes this route, where does that leave us if not more isolated, alone and, probably, frightened.

Mrs. Blackwell and I are opting for a different way.

I won't be drawing my shades tighter now and I won't be viewing every stranger on my street with suspicious eyes. And, unlike one idiot neighbor of mine, I'm not contemplating the purchase of a gun because of two morons.

I won't take part in helping to build a culture of alienation and fear.

It seems to me that when you're battening down the doors and looking over your shoulder, you're surrendering something important and, in effect, you've made yourself a victim in advance of a crime.

I like my street. I like my neighborhood and I know that neighbors who talk regularly and expect the best from each other is its own defense.

And besides, I need to know when the next yard waste collection is scheduled.

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