Silent night, holy night;
All is calm, all is bright.
May it be so this evening, as businesses and government agencies close their doors and families gather in kitchens and around brightly decorated Christmas trees, preparing for a visitation of wonder and awe.
But not everyone we know will experience peace this Christmas.
Last week and the beginning of this week were uncharacteristically violent in Winston-Salem and the surrounding area.
“In total, five people were killed last week,” the Journal’s Lee O. Sanderlin reported on Sunday. “Three others were beaten. Two others, including a police officer, were injured in shootings. The week put Winston-Salem’s homicide toll at 30 for the year so far, compared with 26 in all of 2018.”
A security guard at a Kernersville sweepstakes business joined those injured by gunfire early Monday morning, according to the Kernersville Police Department.
The dead include 15-year-old Olajuwon Tillman, who was shot during a fight with another boy from his high school on Dec. 16.
During a vigil on Saturday, attended by family members, friends, teachers and others, Tillman’s mother, Korona Wolfe, exhibited uncommon grace, stating, “They took away my best friend. I feel like the God in me won’t let me hate the people who did this.”
Much too young. Much too young. His family, his community — this whole community — mourns his loss.
The dead include Terry Lee Cobb Jr., a city sanitation worker who was shot and killed by a fellow employee on Dec. 20, one with whom he’d had a long-standing dislike. As they responded to the shooting, the killer turned his gun on police officers before they killed him. During their confrontation, police Sgt. Cameron Stewart Sloan was hit twice by gunfire. He underwent surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and is expected to recover.
Our hearts go out to the families of all of those who have been harmed by senseless violence in recent days. We’d rather write that calm has settled on our community as we end the year on a note of generosity and good will. But it’s difficult to reconcile the arrival of the Prince of Peace with the violence.
It should not be like this.
As devastating as these injuries are, most of us will be safe and secure this evening. Most of us will sit at home with full bellies, maybe telling the children stories of the jolly old saint who magically delivers toys to all girls and boys, or the child born more than 2,000 years ago to bring redemption to the world.
But that redemption has not halted the pain and suffering experienced on this earthly plain. In this world, it falls to those of us who walk the streets to help the troubled find peace. Suffering abounds, and our hands are required to heal it. May we do so in the coming year.
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace.