All murders are wrenching. All murders rip into the heart and soul of a community without mercy. Rarely do they seem to make sense. The murder of 22-year-old Richard Bailey in Albany New York this week is no exception. A student at the University of Albany and from all accounts a good and decent young man, Mr. Bailey, a Wantaugh New York native, was shot in the head and killed while walking home to his on-campus apartment October 20.
I don’t know what Mr. Bailey’s last moments were like. My guess, from the sound of things, is he was unconscious for whatever moments in life remained for him after the trigger was pulled. I know when I was shot in the head at point blank range on August 24, 1984, I regained consciousness and the blistering my moments on the ground bleeding to death are beyond the reach of words, my words anyway.
Here is what I do know. We live in a society that is addicted to violence. We live in a society that at every turn teaches us that a true measure of your strength is measured by the size of our capacity to be violent. Look around you: video games, movies, television. It is everywhere. To get free of any addiction, we as a society must go through a withdrawal of sorts. Better that form of withdrawal than to experience one life after another being withdrawn from our midst.
We had better return en masse to the methods of non-violence. I am convinced beyond measure that it is the only way. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a hero of mine for as long as I’ve had memory, once compared non-violence to water. He said, “Non-violence is like water. If you have a fire and you throw a bucket of water on it and it doesn’t go out, it doesn’t mean water doesn’t put out fire. It means you need more water.”
Wherever you live, consider doing something non-violent to contribute to peace in your community, and, perhaps more importantly, in your family. I’ve sent a note to an Albany clerk expressing my interest in helping the Albany Gun Violence Task Force. There’s even talk about creating a position for an anti-violence coordinator. Were the position to be approved by the council, I might apply for it. I would urge the Task Force to consider changing it’s name to the Albany Anti-Violence task force. Let the name of this extraordinary group of people cover all forms of violence. Whether the position is approved or not, I will help the task force in any way I can.