Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On gunfire

My dad works for the State Department. Which is pretty cool. He's good at his job, and life never gets monotonous.

Which can occasionally be a bad thing.

Like when there are shoot-outs at their house.

The State Department tries to put their employees in decent houses. But, like my dad says, the problem is that drug lords like nice houses too. The hill behind my parents' house is referred to by consulate workers as "the killing field." Just one of the hazards of the job, I guess.

Anyway, one drug cartel made a hit on another this past Friday. Thank the Lord (literally, really) that both Dad and Mary were in North Dakota at the time.

Most of the time, I'm not scared about my family's safety. The State Department knows how to take care of their own, and my parents are smart people, and extremely dangerous situations really aren't super common. They have a safe room. And an alarm system. And walkie-talkies. But I do always have my cell phone with me. And after seeing these pictures, I'll be mentioning Dad and Mary's safety a little more often in my prayers.

Dad's Report: "When we got home Sunday night, we saw the damage from the shooting. These are photos of the house directly across the street from us, as well as some of the damage to our house. We were blessed - really - to be out of town at a funeral when it happened early Friday morning. There is not much damage to our house because it was pretty one-sided, more of an assassination than a shootout. The hit men stood on the hill alongside our house and fired more than a thousand large calibre rounds into the house across the street, then went in and finished them off. As they sprayed bullets at the neighbor, they also ended up hitting our house, an old satellite dish on our roof, and tore through the fence, fence posts, power, cable, and phone lines. The consulate staff picked up more than 100 spent cartridges in our patio."

 The house across the street (picture taken from my parents' house).

The Whittaker home doesn't look nearly as bad, but still...
This is on their roof.

Bullets embedded in the walls of my parent's house, and holes in their chain link fence.

At first I wasn't sure why I was posting this. (Maybe to brag about what a dangerous and exciting career my dad has...) But as I was looking at these pictures and preparing to post them, I realized what it was I wanted to say. The thing that this experience, indirect though it was, has done for me is that it has made violence real.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm not a complete STRANGER to violence. But this is something different. Often in film and television, we see these glorious shoot-outs, these twenty car pile-ups, these bombs and fist fights. And I'm not against those things in film and television ALL THE TIME. But I am against them being treated casually. Because shoot outs HAPPEN. And there is nothing casual about it. There is an inherent disregard for humanity in treating violence casually. And if you ask me, disregarding humanity isn't usually a good thing for civilization, the earth, families, etc. I think that violence can be used effectively in film, even if its extreme. (The Godfather, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Dark Knight come to mind.) Because in those films, the violence is used as part of the warning in the story...to establish the "bad guy," to make you cringe and think "There is no need for this!" (I think it's also possible in dark parodies/satires for violence to be used effectively, although deciding about that exception is a lot more subjective.) But when the "good guys" are the ones with the guns, I think we've got a problem. Guns shouldn't be entertaining. We should think more about the violence that we allow into our hearts, whether through film or television or theatre or music or our own thoughts.

But that's just me.


brandilyn said...

hoooo-ly crap. this is INSANE! thank goodness everyone is safe.

Kara said...

wow. Not fun. Glad your folks are ok!

the thing with those car chases in movies-- doesn't it always seem that some innocent fruit stand guy gets run over- and there goes his livelihood?

I always want to find out about how the fruit stand guys come out in the end. But they never show that part. :P

Anonymous said...

Greed,weapons and drugs have no respect for human life.

Curt said...

After we had been home for a while, and thought about what had happened there, it made us want to cry. Even bad guys are children of God. Why do they have to do this to each other - or, worse, to innocent bystanders?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. I've given up on the movies, often violence is piled on just for the sake of violence. I'm so radical I've even changed my vocabulary. I never use the word trigger unless I'm talking about an actual gun. I never asked anyone to "shoot" a picture any more. What is a casual word to the speaker may conjure a violent image for the listener.

Liz-a-nator said...

Whoever that last anonymous commenter was, I hope I know you, because that was sharp. =)