On Aug. 26 in Moneta, Virginia, a gunman shot and killed a reporter and her cameraman.
The shooter, who captured the whole ordeal on video, ran away from the scene, tweeted about his actions, and then shot himself before law enforcement caught him.
The victims, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, were 24 and 27, respectively. They had each found love. Ward was engaged. They had their whole lives ahead of them.
Their dreams and aspirations were gunned down by a disgruntled former employee with revenge on his mind.
We don’t often think of things like this happening in the United States. Other countries, maybe, but not in our own country.
This was the first time since 2007 that journalists were killed on American soil. America is supposed to be a place where people can report on a story without risking their lives.
Fourteen years ago on Sept. 11, thousands of people got out of bed not knowing that they had just woken up for the last time.
Many of you were young when it happened – three to eight years old perhaps – so your memories of that event (if they even exist) are probably fuzzy. For others, the images you saw on that day are crystal clear even after all these years.
For me, 9/11 was the day death became real and tangible. It transformed in my mind from an abstract concept to a concrete image.
I have some bad news for you: you are going to die (unless Jesus comes back before then). You could die tomorrow or in 70 years.
Whenever we hear preachers say this right before he does an altar call, it’s easy to take it with a grain of cynicism.
Yeah, I could die in the next minute, but I probably won’t.
That may be true, but death was the last thing on the minds of Alison Parker and Adam Ward the morning of Aug. 26. For them, it was just another work day.
I’m a journalism major, so this event, more so than others, hit me hard. When I saw people in my planned profession had been killed while they were just doing their job, it forced me to think about my outlook on living.
I don’t think it’s healthy to live every moment as if it’s your last unless, for whatever reason, you know that your death is near. If that’s the case, then go ahead.
But in every other situation, if you’re constantly focused on death, your life will pass you by.
For example, if you’re running a 5K, your main goal is to make it to the finish line. At the same time, you have to accomplish the task at hand. In this case, the task is putting one foot in front of the other more than 4,000 times. I can dream for days about finishing a 5K, but unless I’m actually running, all that dreaming is for naught.
At the same time, don’t live as if you’re invincible.
Many of us lived this way when we were kids. Maybe you rode your bike down the steepest hill in town with your friend standing on pegs on the back wheels, the wind forcing open your tear ducts.
Or perhaps you climbed trees until the branches got so thin that you could feel yourself swaying.
I’m sure you could think of other things you did when you were younger that you wouldn’t do today. Kids don’t see consequence until it smacks them in the face, and even then, they might ignore it. They don’t often think before they take action.
As we grow older, we begin to foresee the consequences of our actions. Don’t take life for granted. God gave it to you, and he could take it away from you at any moment.
So the next time you think about going 90 in a 55, just don’t do it.
If you died this week, what would people say about you? What would they remember? Would they remember you as selfish or selfless? Proud or humble? An agitator or a peacemaker?
For Parker and Ward, people remembered the positive impacts they had on those they met, the lives they touched.
As for the gunman, he will be remembered longer than his victims. That’s just how the world works. Unfortunately for him, he won’t be remembered for acts of kindness or bravery but for using his final hours of life to end the lives of two others.
Now I’m not saying that you should live for the approval of others. That road leads to madness and disappointment.
We should seek approval from God alone. If we do this, other people will see God’s presence in our lives and take notice.
Tragedies like the Virginia shooting and the shooting in the church in South Carolina are proof of the brokenness of our world and the brokenness of ourselves.
No legislation, no political party will push these tragedies into extinction. The day the world is rid of sin will also be the day we eradicate these senseless shootings.
As Christians, we can rejoice in the fact that this day is coming. There will be a day when peace defeats chaos. There will be a day when love conquers hate. There will be a day when good vanquishes evil once and for all.
This day will come with the return of our King, Jesus Christ.
But today is not that day, so until then, don’t take your life for granted. You don’t know how much longer you’ll have it.
Jon Gallardo is a senior journalism major and sports editor for Cedars. He loves writing, listening to music, and playing basketball, and his favorite literary character is Gollum.
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