On the verge of a nervous breakdown

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I kept looking at the sky as the sun set over the Gulf last night. It was one of those glorious pink sunsets that turns the whole world rosy: the Gulf waters, the sky before me, the sky behind me, the very pier upon which I walked, the two men visiting from France and posing for a picture, all of it, all of us, bathed in rosy sunlight.

Dozens of us had just watched on as a young man, strong of hip and biceps, battled with a fish all along the pier. Starting at one end and working his way over the heads and lines of other fisherman around the end of the pier and back up the west end, a crowd following close behind as he broke into a sweat from the sheer weight and struggle. He was mindful and relentless, knowing that this was the catch that he’d talk about for years to come, the story he’d tell his grandchildren, should he have any, about the day he caught the big one while the crowds oohed and ahhed him along.

But even as I joined in that crowd cheering for this young man, I kept thinking of Baton Rouge.

“Those police officers went to work today thinking they’d be home by sunset,” I told my girlfriend as we sat, our toes in the sand.

I did not yet know how many of them would have children but I knew it would be likely that some would. One officer had four children, the other was a new father and a step-father, and the third had two children

Eight children left fatherless.

And that’s just in one Sunday afternoon shooting spree.

Gavin Long, the killer, didn’t even live in Baton Rouge. He just came to town with the intent to murder. He  made it clear in his numerous online posts and YouTube videos that he believed that the only way to exact justice in this world is through the slaughter of others.

So he went into a city with the sole purpose of killing police officers – no matter the color of their skin. He said his “heart was pure.”

I have written to this issue of the mentally unstable so many times, I feel like the world world is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Someone suggested to me that Gavin Long was not mentally ill but just fed up with all the injustices wrought against people of color. Perhaps he was just aggrieved of the senseless killings by white police officers upon young black men.

Being aggrieved is one thing.

But sane people do not make appeals for the wholesale murder of people  – no matter their color of their skin just their uniforms – as a means to exact justice. And Gavin Long made plenty of appeals for just that. You can hear them all on his YouTube channel under his pen name “Cosmo Setepenra”.

Yes, Gavin was a writer. A spiritualist. A nutritionist. A former Marine data specialist. Some might classify him as an Iraq war veteran, although I won’t until I have a clearer understanding of his job in Iraq. Because going to Iraq to look at a computer screen all day long is a different deal than going to Iraq and riding around in Humvee dodging IEDs all day long.

This is the thing that keeps happening: a young man with a bitter heart and inflated sense of self-import thinks that he’s going to set the world right by murdering others.  

The people around him know that he has a bitter heart.

The people around him know that he owns guns.

The people around him know that he talks nonsense.

The people around him know that he has guns.

The people around him know that he spends more time alone than he should.

The people around him know that he has guns.

The people around him know that his hatred of others is too intense.

The people around him know that he has guns.

The people around him know that he has an inflated sense of self-worth.

The people around him know that he has guns.

The people around him know that he can’t get along with anybody because he believes his way is the only way.

The people around him know that he has guns.

The people around him know that he is talking out of his head. They are afraid of him. They begin to avoid him. They don’t want their own kids around him. They take out restraining orders against him. They tell their friends about his fool-ways. They know he  drinks too much, smokes too much pot, takes too many pills. They know he beat his ex-wife, his former girlfriend, his children.

And they know he has guns.

Sometimes they read his writings, his blogs, his Facebook posts. They watch his YouTube videos and like his Facebook rants. They post smiley faces when he says the most insane things because they tell themselves he’s just nuts.

But you see, he really is nuts.

That’s the thing the people around him never want to confront because confronting it would require them to take responsibility. So instead, they simply become complicit in his plans to slaughter innocent people.

And it isn’t until after the killing that they speak up and say, yeah, well, he had guns and he talked nonsense but we never thought it would come to this.

As long as bitter young men with inflated sense of self-worth are given unlimited access to guns and no one is  brave enough to cry out: This man is crazy. He’s calling for the killing of others.

As long as the people watching from the gathering crowd remain silent, innocent people are going to be bathed in blood instead of the rosy glow of a setting sun.

I imagine that even God is sick of our prayer vigils and our swaying in the candlelight.

If you know someone who is calling for the murder of others, especially as a means to “set things right”, call your local police station and report him/her. Do it today. And keep calling until you know some action is being taken.

If you read something on Facebook calling for the slaughter of others, report it. Report it to Facebook. Report it to the police jurisdiction in the town that person lives.

Speak up people.

The fatherless children of the future are depending upon us.



Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

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