Memorial Day is a federally recognized holiday in the United States, recognized as a day to honor fallen soldiers, brave men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice fighting for something they believed in, a cause greater than themselves. It is a solemn day of remembrance usually accompanied with celebrations of life.
This year the people of Red River, New Mexico, unfortunately saw violence first-hand during their Memorial Day celebrations, violence that our nation’s fallen soldiers had hoped to prevent bringing to our own shores. This act of violence in the form of multiple gun shots, wounding 8 people and killing 3, was perpetuated by two motorcycle gangs who decided to use this secluded, mountain community as their own personal battlefield to carry out a senseless vendetta. I suppose the community can take some solace in the fact that the violence was contained to the gangs themselves, but that would only dehumanize the people involved and dehumanization only perpetuates the cycle of violence into the future. The act of violence that occurred on the weekend of Memorial Day in the year 2023, in this small northern New Mexico town, could have been avoided had the individuals involved been able to settle their differences peacefully. Alas the temptation towards violence is strong in the human spirit. Regrettably it is a temptation inside all of us, it must be guarded against with discipline and patience.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn said the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every human being. We are all capable of evil and it is our choices which determine so. We choose to be good once we understand what we are capable of. We choose to be good once we know that we can do evil.
Let us remind ourselves of our humanity whenever we witness acts of violence and let us place ourselves in the shoes of whoever is responsible for violence. Always be willing to ask yourself, “what would it take for me to commit such an act?” Then let us remember the similarities we have with those who commit such a violence. Only when we recognize humanity even in those of whom we disapprove, or even hate, can we break the cycle of violence and move towards the ever-present aspiration of peace.
We must remember our tragedies so that we may remember our humanity.