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An Editorial: The Problem with Staying in Your Lane

Family members mourn as two mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH claim more American lives. Credit: KUTV.

Many of you know exactly what staying in your lane means. It relates to fields of fire and the responsibility assigned to an individual or a crew-served weapon.

The lane is clearly defined by criteria and marked on a map; or in the case of artillery, on a range card and physically limited with aiming stakes to the left and right.

Each Soldier, Coastie, Sailor, Marine and Airman is individually responsible for staying in his lane in order to complete a mission. 


Not Staying in Your Lane

Many of you also know exactly what this phrase means as well.  It relates to action outside the assigned limits of a field or lane of fire.  Put another way, it is another way of saying that one is not responsible for any action outside of one’s defined lane of action.


A Hard Question in Light of Current Events

So I have to ask – were you surprised about the most recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio?

Given the number of high-profile killings of innocents over the past several years, I wonder. 

While public and political outrage are at a peak, I know that it will soon subside and these most recent tragic incidents will soon enough fade from the public’s memory.

All that will remain is the silent sorrow of the loved ones afflicted.

A woman lights a candle at the shrine of those lost in recent shootings. Credit: CNBC.

Outside My Lane

I am outside of my lane.

I know my role here at this publication, and I am very thankful to have the privilege of writing in a way and in a context that is helpful and educational to you, the reader.

My lane does not include editorials.

And yet ….

We – you and I – do not have the luxury of remaining quietly detached – of staying safely in our personal lanes – from this epidemic of violence; we cannot afford to hope that this violence will somehow not again appear in our schools and malls and churches and nightclubs. 

We have to step outside our personal lanes and civilly advocate for action against this madness.  How and where and when you wish to exercise your right to give up silence and speak up is entirely up to you. 

In this regard, I would like to offer some suggestions to stimulate thinking and speaking up about domestic terrorism.

  • Educate yourself about the policies and procedures your school district and/or your city has in place to deal with such an event. 
  • If you have teenagers, be there for them.  One of the “tells” about many of those perpetrating these crimes is that they feel isolated and alone.  Talk with them.
  • The internet is at once wonderful and wicked.  Monitor what your loved ones are doing on the web.
  • If in a position to help shape the lives of young people, stress values like honesty, self-reliance and hard work.
  • Advocate for needed mental health reforms, gun control on assault weapons, and deep background checks.

The challenge we face in confronting mass murder is taunting.  Facing the threat involves all of us working together in understanding and addressing the many factors which comprise this evil. 

To slightly paraphrase a line from a letter the Irish political philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke wrote on January 9, 1795:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] should do nothing.

This sentiment may help in determining the lane to stay in while advancing the mission of ending mass killings in our country.


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