A Bad Day In The Pittsburgh Neighborhood

I grew up in Pittsburgh. So even though I have been away for decades, the murder of 11 people attending worship services at a synagogue in the Squirrel Hill area of the Steel City struck a little too close to home.

And I know. These horrific events occur so regularly now that when the Breaking News logo flashes on CNN it generates as many yawns as it does outrage.

But as a society we should be outraged. And that outrage should lead to something more than an outpouring of “thoughts and prayers.”

I recognize that this is a tough — maybe impossible — problem to solve, given the strong feelings about the Second Amendment and the virtual lock that the National Rifle Association has on lawmakers.

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Still, America appears to be the only nation where this type of mass murder happens routinely. And then people huff and puff, but nothing changes until the next time. So it goes. Shouldn’t we as a nation, as the Mayor of Pittsburgh opined, be trying to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of deranged people with evil intent? Seems to me that even strong Second Amendment advocates could live with that.

And the horrific murders in Pittsburgh seem all the worse to me because they happened literally in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Fred Rogers, the legendary public TV host, lived about five blocks from the synagogue where the massacre took place.

Fred Rogers spent a career advocating for and demonstrating the values of civility, peace and inclusiveness.

Gee. Sounds like the polar opposite of the thinking of some deranged idiot whose twisted view of the world was so filled with hatred that he had no qualms about opening fire in a house of worship.

In the aftermath, the Prez said all the right things in way of expressing sympathy to those killed, their families and friends and to the Pittsburgh community and the nation. And then he added that the outcome would have been better if armed security had been present in the synagogue.

Nah. That’s crazy. And it’s really the solution offered by Archie Bunker on the show All in the Family years ago. During a time when airplanes were being hijacked to Cuba, Archie opined that the solution was to give every passenger a gun as they boarded the plane. Then if something happened, they could just fight it out.

I thought that was funny at the time. But I’m not laughing now, especially since this appears to be the policymakers solution of choice.

I wonder what Mr. Rogers would say?

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Rob Jewell

I’m Rob Jewell and I live and write in Woodland Park, Colorado, the City Above the Clouds. I've been fortunate. I worked for 29 years at BFGoodrich in Akron, Ohio. I started editing employee publications and ended as vice president of corporate communications. Then I started a public relations consulting company before becoming a full-time faculty member in the School of Journalism at Kent State University. I taught courses in writing, public relations and mass communication ethics. And I supervised a student-run public relations firm, called Flash Communications. During my tenure at Kent State I was honored to receive the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award. During most of this time I've been a dedicated runner. OK, jogger, if you take speed into consideration. But while my times are not much to write about, I was and am committed. For almost 30 years I ran at least 1,000 miles each year. (Except for one year when I tore my calf muscle playing tennis. So much for tennis.) Being on the road most mornings at 5 a.m. gave me some time to think. It also led to some amazing friendships that now span more than three decades. And my longtime love affair with running helped me shape my first novel, Then We Ran, which is available wherever electronic books are sold. And just so you don't think that all I did was work and run, I have other interests as well, many centering on family. My wife, Mary, was a successful and highly regarded career teacher in the Akron public schools. She now devotes her time and energy to a host of social and athletic activities in Woodland Park. My son, Brian, teaches at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs where he is also the head soccer coach. And my daughter, Jessica, has completed her doctorate at Kent State University where she is also an administrator with the Wick Poetry Center. I've done a lot of writing during my career -- but Jessica is the real writer in the family. I'll try not to make too many errors in this blog. I'm sure she'll be watching.

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