It has been quite a week in Southern California and Nuevo. I wrote earlier my initial response to the murder here in Nuevo, and feel a follow up post is warranted.
Tonight we have a meeting at Mountain Shadows Middle School from 7-9 that the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is hosting regarding safety. I am sure that Captain Collins and the department will have good information for us at the meeting, here are some thoughts in preparation for that meeting:
- These events are disconcerting and hit close to home. It is reasonable to feel out of sorts and uneasy.
- This murder is not an accurate reflection of our community. Our response to the murder is a much more accurate reflection of our community. If we respond in fear, suspicion, distrust, and isolation then evil wins as we lose. If we rise up and find ways to have compassion, reach out more to those who live around us, develop stronger ties of trust with neighbors, then we overcome evil and grow in goodness and strength. I know many of you, but not enough of you. Those of you that I know are marvelous people (well almost all of you). You know what I mean! At tonight’s meeting there will be many quality people representing a quality community. Let’s not let this horrible event overwhelm us, rather let’s use it as an opportunity for good.
- Fear is real, and often it is justified. But just like any other human emotion it must be interpreted and rightly directed. The mind needs to direct our emotion to its appropriate and right end. It cannot be the dominant factor in decision making. In our community today there is a reason to fear. That fear should cause you to act cautiously, with appropriate limitations on behavior in light of a real threat. The individual who killed Maria and Connie Gonzales has not been apprehended, and may very well still be in our town. That is cause for concern and a change of some behavior because he is dangerous and his behavior and location is unpredictable. So be careful, but don’t let fear dominate your life.
- Control what is in your power to control and let the police do their job. Here is what you can do. Be a good neighbor. Watch out for those who live around you. Make an extra effort to build bridges of communication with those who live in proximity to you. Could you make contact with your neighbors in an emergency? Swap phone numbers, email addresses and other ways to communicate. Make an effort to forge a relationship that moves beyond the simple wave as you drive on by. This sort of networking of people is real strength. Frankly, it has an effect that no amount of police patrols can match. Police have one level of input, but communities that join together and know one another are strong in ways that can never be supplied by the Sheriff.
- The Sheriff’s department are our partners in this process, not our adversaries. Tonight is not a night to lobby for more police presence or to be critical of a lack of police presence. Frankly, I pray that we don’t have a need for an increased police presence in our community. Not because I don’t like them, or want to “get away” with speeding in Nuevo, rather it is a sign that our community has returned to “normal” and I can go back to not worrying about whether or not I remembered to lock the door.
- When a murder occurs, whether you know the person or not, it is personal. Murder is a crime against all of us – someone who murders presumes the right to kill another. Life, humanity is a component we share together, and as a society and community we are elevated when we respect life, and diminished when any one of us disrespects life. The murder of a police officer is especially egregious. It is not only offensive to the person, his family and friends, but society as a whole because he works to uphold our values and social mores. These murders are offensive and reprehensible.
- It is the job of the police, District Attorney’s Office, and the whole justice system to render justice. It is the job of the citizenry to stand behind law enforcement by obeying the law and in responding with compassion towards those who are the victims of crime. The best thing we can do is reach out to the Gonzales family.
Obviously, the women killed here in Nuevo are close by. Our community is a generous one and people are planning ways to help them (This Saturday there will be a car wash at the Hardware store to raise funds). The Riverside officers who were shot today are also part of our extended community. Tonight’s meeting is an opportunity for the community to see that we all still respect life and stand against the lack of respect for life. Tonight’s meeting is a gathering of the community so that we can remind ourselves that not everyone is going nuts, most of us are still standing up for what’s right.