Seventeen months ago, several families and countless friends were thrown into mournful shock when my wife’s aunt, uncle, cousin and cousin’s daughter were murdered as part of a one-man killing spree that senselessly ended the lives of seven people.
These crimes were committed not by the metaphorical stranger in the shadows; rather, it was my wife’s cousin’s estranged husband who turned to a gun to stop the pain in his life. This deeply disturbed individual ended his own life on the evening of July 7, 2011 just hours after demonstrating the very depths of what a person is capable of.
While faith, hope and the passage of time have blessedly combined to dull the pain of that terrible midsummer day, tragic events that used to flit through our minds without notice now tend to stick, reminding us that every news item affects real people like you and me.
Perhaps our minds are designed to quickly process and discard these implications because dwelling on the pain of others can prevent us from moving on and being productive in our lives. But that loaded concept we call “perspective” can be extremely positive in measured doses.
However you’d like to brand that theory, my wife and I had a very visceral reaction to the leading sports story of Dec. 1, the chilling murder-suicide authored by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher. I initially hesitated to write about the death of Kasandra Perkins, so as to ponder the most effective way to address it, if I decided to say anything at all.
Without getting too egotistical, what I eventually arrived at was this: it would be a true shame if I didn’t use this (admittedly humble) platform to spread awareness of domestic violence. In this era we live in, news speedily loses relevance without a fresh angle or “take,” so I hope 10 days wasn’t too long to deliberate.
So, having lifted the curtain a bit on my thought process, my advice is as follows. If you, or anyone you care about feels threatened by a significant other, male or female, please seek help. In our family’s case, my wife’s cousin tolerated years of abuse before her life was cut short.
Know the warning signs and be proactive. I’m not an expert on the subject, but there are people in your city or county who are. In the area we live in, Safe Haven Ministries is truly doing the Lord’s work. However, there are hundreds of similar organizations out there who want to help safe lives. But they need to be informed first.
I’ll leave the punditry to others in this case. People in prominent positions have used this Midwest tragedy to advance various programs and platforms, and that’s great. That’s what freedom of speech is all about.
But there’s one thing we all can agree on: saving a life will always be worth it. Don’t wonder “what if?” after the fact. Before you comment on how something like this affects society at large, explore your own life and the lives of the ones you love.
It may feel contradictory, but the people we know well can do horrible things. Don’t let Kasandra Perkins die in vain.