Any Day, Anytime, Anyplace

by Kevin Burton

   You pays your money, you takes your chances.

   If we’re being honest, is that not a suitable tagline for the post-national United States?

   Isn’t that phrase a lot more indicative of the American experience than say “land of the free, home of the brave?”

   Now that phrase is in our national anthem, so it’s highly charged. Maybe we can’t include that phrase in a dispassionate discussion. And maybe it’s not fair to limit that discussion to my home country. Maybe the whole world is paying its money, taking its chances.

   But your hand is on the doorknob, pulling it closed. You fumble with your keys. You lock your front door behind you. You’re off to face your routine realities. This is a day in the life.

   What’s your mindset? Are you prepared or what you might face?

    While I was designing a church bulletin and paying bills at work Monday morning, a woman shot her way into a school in Tennessee and killed six people.

   Surely you have heard and read about this by now. News outlets worldwide are providing updates. I won’t get too deep into the details of the case.

   Except I will mention that 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher was one of the victims.

   Not sure if it works the same way in Nashville, but where I live substitute teachers can sign up on a website for assignments they want. They could be in a different school every day of the week.

   Ms. Peak could have chosen any number of schools, but on this day she chose the Covenant School in Nashville. She and her family and friends had a painful reality hit home: that in the United States, a mass shooting can happen any day, anytime, anyplace.

   My wife and I went to see “A Man Called Otto” in a movie theatre Feb. 25. We love Tom Hanks and the previews looked good.

   When we did this, we took our lives into our hands. Americans shoot up movie theatres. It can happen any day, anytime, anyplace.

   ABC News reports that there have been 128 mass shootings in the USA in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Do the math, chances are that between Monday, the day of the Nashville shooting, and Friday, the day I plan to publish this article, there will be some other shooting.

    When a man walked into a Connecticut school in 2012 and killed 26 people, I was so shocked, so transfixed by the news coverage, I completely forgot to notify my ride service. So I was a no-show.

    If you are a blind person trying to conduct business and you have any kind of ride service, you know how important it is to stay on their good side.

   Ten plus years later I am so desensitized to these killings that they sometimes don’t even interrupt my scrolling and web searching. Many, if not most Americans are like that.

   There are people who start blogs in order to weigh in on issues such as gun violence or violence in general. I am not one of them. Look elsewhere for those hot takes.

    I am writing this to say my goodbyes, in case I should go to the other side of the ledger and become a victim of a mass shooter.

   My street, my grocery store, my post office, my place of employment, my movie theatre and yours, none is immune.

   Here is what I will no longer be able to tell you, if that should that happen:

   Friend, there may be no warning. You may have your hand on the Chili Cheese Fritos at the Piggly Wiggly one moment and open your eyes in the afterlife the next.

   The Bible says there are two places people go after death. There is a Heaven for those who acknowledge their sin and have placed their life and faith in Jesus Christ. There is a hell for those who reject Christ.

   But hell is also for nice people, taxpayers, who are “too busy” to pray to God, open the Bible and investigate honestly the claims made there.

  We all have a sin nature thanks to the fall of man described in Genesis, chapter three. Hell is the default setting.

   The Bible says people who go to Heaven stay in Heaven, people who go to hell, stay in hell.

   Forever is a long, long time. In fact, forever is not even a time, it is finality. That makes Jesus not just the only answer, but also the only question.

   So before you live another day, and subject yourself to random whatever, I beg of you to listen not to me, but to God.

   If you have honest doubts, He has heard them before. Pray to God. He will hear you, any day, anytime, anyplace.

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