Death by Default

by Janis Gaines

Weekly Writing Challenge: Living History
What was the most depressing (or uplifting) news item you’ve seen recently?
Why did you react so strongly to it?

Last night on Facebook I read this story about the death of Philip Marshall and his two teenage children. While this happened back in February, this is the first I had heard about it. Apparently, Marshall had worked for the government as a pilot and had some inside knowledge about the corruption that goes on behind the scenes AND he had written about it (find his work on Amazon). The police are calling the deaths a murder-suicide, but conspiracy theorists believe otherwise, and I tend to agree.

Either way, regardless of political persuasion or cause, two beautiful, innocent children are dead. It is so sad to see these young people with such hope and promise have their lives ended too soon — through no fault of their own. Did they take the heat on behalf of a brave father who dared to speak his mind? A selfless man, willing to put his life on the line for the sake of truth and the good of all. Or were they the victims of a selfish father’s weak moment? A man who caved to fear, anger, or some other unknown darkness. Either way, it is death by association…death by default.

I’ve been reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee with my high school English class. It’s a classic and for good reason. The title comes from a statement in the book that devoted lawyer and father Atticus makes, explaining to his kids that it is wrong to kill something that is innocent or harmless, like a mockingbird. Or like these two precious young people: Alex, 17, and Macaila, 14. It is a lesson our culture, our government, still needs to learn. As Hemingway once said, borrowing lines from poet John Donne, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in Mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Death by default is the worst death of all. How many more Americans await a similar, senseless fate?