I didn't know Alexander Hernandez-Apale, I only saw his name and photo in the newspaper one morning. He was a young man with a pleasant smile in the photo accompanying the article about his death. Alexander was almost 19 years old. He was attacked by two teen gangsters who probably thought he was in another gang, and they stabbed him to death on the street. Alexander was not in a gang - he was a victim of random violence on the streets of Beaverton, Oregon.
We read about and see death every day in the media, so much so that I think we - I - become habituated to the point of either ignoring or accepting it as "normal." I can't explain why this particular death grabbed me the way it did. Maybe it's because I have a teenage grandson; maybe it's because I took the time to read the entire article and in a small way got to know this young man, and could feel the pain and heartbreak in his parents' words.
In addition to the sadness I feel for Alexander, his family and friends, I am profoundly
perplexed by the capacity of humans to enact this kind of senseless brutality. What part of the human mind allows people to kill?