Two of my close friends have relatives who were at the Highland Park 4th of July parade, an event they left spattered with blood. Both families were on multi-generational outings and, at the moment the shooting started, were separated from their adolescent kids. They were off doing something “normal,” like getting ice cream or a Starbucks. One woman was thrust into the Starbucks bathroom and locked in until the police came and let them out, directing them to somewhere safe.

I write those words and think, “somewhere safe”? What does that mean anymore? In that moment, it was where someone wasn’t shooting to kill as many people as possible, where there were police nearby to offer their protection.

The other night, I was driven home from the airport (more about where I was and why another time) by a man who escaped from South Sudan as a youth. Two of his brothers were not so lucky and died in the conflict there. “In my country,” he said, “the animals and the birds would tell you from which direction the violence was coming.” He made a sweeping gesture with his arm as we drove through the dark streets of South Minneapolis. “All the lions and tigers and elephants would run in the same direction,” he went on, “so we knew we had to run that way too. In this country, you don’t know where it’s going to come from. You can’t prepare for it, you can’t run away.”

He, his wife and their three kids moved to Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, from a smaller city in Minnesota. “I have more opportunity here,” he said, but, so far, that opportunity hasn’t included finding an apartment they can afford. They’re living in a hotel. He has a day job and drives all night.

“This country is heaven on earth,” he went on, “but people don’t know it. You put them into my country for one hour and they would be different, they would stop doing this stupid violence. But I don’t think they are going to. I told my wife the other day that I think in a couple of years we should move to Kenya. You learn to feel what’s coming and I think there’s still a couple of years before it’s time to go.”

I felt like I was riding with a dark prophesying angel. And, from my own inner sense of history, I felt the chilling accuracy of his prediction.

I debated with myself about the purpose of writing about him. Things are bleak enough without my adding to them. But something about the events of this July 4th compelled me to do so. I share his feelings and his sense of what’s coming, as I’m sure many of you do too. The question is, What can we do? Is it too late to stop the worst from happening?

But the worst has already happened to seven people attending an Independence Day parade, and something close to the worst to all those there whose lives will never be the same. So maybe that’s not the right question. Maybe if I can find the right question, or change the angle of my observation, that could lead to some answers. I don’t like this feeling of witnessing history steamrolling its way toward me.


  1. Ruth, I feel such a sense of foreboding. I’ve NEVER felt this way before, ever. I’m grateful for your posting this; I feel like I have permission to simply be honest here. All these people who profess to have hope…….. I gotta tell you, I’m having a hard time feeling it. And I’m sick of pretending to be optimistic. Our younger son is entering the 9th grade this Fall, a very progressive Jewish Day (High) School in Los Angeles. Thank G-d for the generous financial aid. I’m hoping beyond hope that our son can graduate high school there. We’ll see how political and social events play out…… We Jews are the ones who are supposed to always be looking for the best, having hope for the future, etc. I gotta tell ya, I’m just not feeling it. I do have my guard up and my feelers out. My sense is that it probably won’t be only Jews who will be singled out; I fear for many, many different people in this country. God bless the USA; we need blessing more than ever before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for echoing the feelings and thoughts that so many of us are experiencing, dear Ruth, though they are upsetting to the maximum. I need to find some things to giggle at to counteract the depression that seems to set in when I do allow my mind to take in all that has been happening in our world!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You have hit a nerve, Ruth. I fear too many of us are living with this foreboding (and this is coming from a born, cockeyed optimist). My cousin calls to tell me it is a good thing I own an apartment in Israel, and I have, for the first time in my life been thinking of applying for a German Passport. Even 2 in my family, one a child of Holocaust survivors, are hard core Republicans. I find the lack of awareness, decency and integrity among Americans astounding. Having been to Africa twice, I really understand your driver. I always felt while there, that (perhaps because they have been less intensely socialized than we) they have better instincts and pay attention to them more consistently. He will definitely know when it is time to leave. I think we will know in November, whether there is reason for hope, or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have also been wondering where “somewhere safe” would be and have come to the conclusion, it may not exist. Everyday someone is killed with firearms. The mass shooting at a 4th of July Parade was unexpected and a tragedy. The assassination of Shinzo Abe was shocking. Japan has stringent gun regulation and yet …..?

    The man from South Sudan reminds us that many people would think this country is “heaven on earth”. And compared to many countries, it is. And I agree, most people don’t realize how fortunate they are. I don’t know what is coming in the future. It could go either way. I am on edge and watching.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s