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Does trouble come in threes?

By Debbie Leffler • Oct 24, 2019 at 8:00 AM

When I was in Chile, the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, took place. A man killed nine people just outside a bar in a popular nightlife area. I wrote in a previous column how people in Chile asked me why our country is like this.

Now, I can ask them a similar question.

When I spoke to my daughter who lives in Chile on Sunday, she told me there were riots there which started in the capital city of Santiago, but had spread to other places in the country, including where she lives.

People were rioting in the streets and burning down buildings and looting stores, including the Acuenta store several blocks away from where my daughter lives. It’s like a Wal-Mart. I had shopped there myself when I was there.

The rioting started as a protest against a recent hike in the subway fare. Chile’s president then decided not to raise the fare, but the angry people continued to riot. It became a general protest against economic inequality – low wages and low pensions and a rising cost of living.

What is the connection between burning down buildings and wanting economic equality?

In Chile, the protests, looting and fires are to bring the government’s attention to the problems in that country. But isn’t there a better way? It sounds as pointless as mass shootings in the United States. Now I can say “See? Your country is violent, too.”

But there is no satisfaction in that. Not really. My main reaction is worry and fear. The police are calming the situation in Chile, sending in police and army troops to arrest people and restore order, but still I worry about my daughter and her family there,

Then I got more bad news from my son who lives in Texas. Not a shooting, thank goodness, but a tornado not far from their home. It was during a Dallas Cowboys football game – no connection. Many homes in Dallas have no basement, including my son’s home, so he, his wife and their three young children went to the safest place in their home – an interior food pantry on the first floor. They sent us a selfie of the five of them crouched in the pantry, safe from the tornado. The tornado did not hit their home, but it did destroy others which were in its path.

The reaction to both situations was delayed on my part – rippling across time and across the miles. My daughter: thousands of miles away in a country with rioting. I later saw that our Sunday newspaper had included a story about it, but it was at the bottom of page 17, nowhere near the headline news it was where she lives. I wouldn’t have noticed it except for her phone call.

And then the Texas tornado that same day … my son and his family, so far away, could have been hurt, could have been killed.

It’s odd that these things that affect me personally do not affect most of you reading this column. Norwalk is far away from Dallas and even further away from Concepcion, Chile. None of this makes headline news here.

We should enjoy the beautiful fall weather and the colors of the trees.

You know the old adage that trouble comes in threes? I hope that’s not true, because two near-disasters is enough for me.

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