We arrived home from a wonderful, Thanksgiving dinner with all of my favorite family members when my wife commented that something was on the porch. I believe her comment went something like, “What did you order that was delivered on Thanksgiving?”
She stopped the car before pulling in the garage and said, “The glass is broken.” I jumped out of the car and yelled, “Call 9-1-1.” She said something cautious like, “We don’t know what happened,” to which I replied sternly, “Call 9-1-1.” All of my years of watching Dateline and Law & Order had prepared me for this moment. I knew what had happened. We had been burglarized and we needed help. I ran in the house through the hole in the glass of the door looking for the bad guys and to take inventory of our house, as if I were a crime scene detective. When my wife called 9-1-1, they immediately told her to get me out of the house. Oops!
I alerted the neighbor to see if he knew anything, which I also learned from my true-crime-TV-watching. He did not. We waited for the police to arrive, which seemed like forever, especially when I was sure the bad guys were plotting their escape. The police arrived and cleared our house with guns drawn. When they made sure we were safe, they asked us to enter and report anything that was disturbed, taken, or damaged. I felt so strange entering my own home, which was now a crime scene. They left all of the big items which I was expecting to be stolen: TV, wedding rings, jewelry, computers, etc. What did they take? They took away our naïve thinking that we were immune to a robbery.
For the first few days, I had a hard time feeling safe in our home. I set the whole house alarm that night, which had not been set since the day it had been installed. I did not sleep well as I worried that they would be back or that they might spread the word to other robbery acquaintances. Do they have a Facebook group? We spoke with our nanny at length about the new reality of our house when she arrived a couple of days later. “This might seem like a nice house, but prepare for intruders. Here is your worst-case scenario guide in case any other tragedy might occur. We’ll be installing rooftop cannons very soon. We just haven’t had time, yet.” I am truly surprised she didn’t run for the hills, as we were clearly preparing for Armageddon.
As setting the alarm is becoming routine, I am feeling more safe and full of gratitude. We were not home or harmed when someone broke into our home. We did not lose any items of sentiment, such as those given to us from special people who have passed. We learned a lesson to use the resources we had (our home alarm) to keep our family, including our animals, safe.
What about the families who do not have the resources to pay a monthly fee for a home alarm? What about the families who live in neighborhoods were robberies are common, even inevitable? Are we surprised that low-income neighborhoods, where robberies occur daily, are full of guns? If you lived in a neighborhood where crimes and home intrusions are inevitable, would you feel comfortable or even safe without a gun?
Within minutes of arriving home to found our house intruded upon, I wanted to head to the nearest store to buy a gun for protection, as if an untrained woman with a gun would provide more safety than harm to my little family. This whole concept of wanting a gun for protection, in the midst of such fear for our personal safety, made me think so differently about guns and the desires to own them. As my fears have subsided since the robbery, so have my desires to run out and buy a gun.
How do we change the system? Are we a part of a system where people are separated into haves and have-nots? Are we easy targets because we live in a neighborhood where excess is more commonplace than “not enough?” If I were poor and without resources, would I feel like those living in places of comfort were easy targets as well? Are we part of a system where those who want to make better lives for themselves cannot and have to resort to a life of crime to feed their families?
I live in a neighborhood where a break-in is not commonplace, as proven by the response on the homeowners’ association Facebook page. The outrage and finger-pointing I witnessed by people in the neighborhood was alarming. They had even identified a suspect, who was a racial minority, and was later identified as a young man visiting his grandparents. Can you imagine being a racial minority and being labeled as a suspect for merely visiting your grandparents in a neighborhood where a break-in occurred? This speaks to me so profoundly about the true racism in America. If we want to change our nation, we should stop treating people who are different than us as threats.
We would not need guns as equalizers, if we treated every person as an equal. If we stopped acting out of fear and started acting out of love, would we change the way our country viewed guns? I spoke to a neighbor about my desire to go buy a gun and this was his response, “My friends who own guns never seem to have enough guns and always seem to have to buy more guns.” Do you remember the Wiley E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons where they would order more and bigger explosives from ACME to out-gun each other? No one ever won, they just kept blowing each other up. They were cartoons, but we live in real life, where we won’t return after being hit with a box full of explosives.
So, I’m choosing love, not fear. I’m choosing to act out of love and gratitude that my family was not harmed. I will not let fear win.