The Bad and the Good
We sit back, collect our thoughts and say a prayer for the victims and their families of the deadly rampage at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. We also try to find a reason why this young man, who was supposedly so brilliant, would commit such an act that defies description.
Then we go on about our work and stop every now and then and say, “What is this world coming to?” This shouldn’t happen in America, but it has, over five times in thirty years, at a military base, at schools and other public places. We watch the news in horror and cannot imagine the terror and shock the victims experienced and also the emergency responders.
As we look at this troubled youth with the bright future, we can’t help but ask ourselves what caused him to act. Was he mentally ill? He acted that way in his first court appearance. What was his youth like growing up? He had parents, so how are they? Now, they have lost a son and are victims too, regardless of how he was raised.
Because we don’t know the suspect, we don’t know what went wrong, but I’d guess it’s safe to bet he had never been in 4-H, FFA or even sports, he wasn’t involved in farming or ranching, and he never developed a work ethic. Did he grow up stuck in front of a TV, or did a mental illness take over recently? We do know he spent some time planning the attack and rigging his apartment to kill more people, so he just didn’t trip out.
So, some say find a “tall tree and short rope.” That is the first reaction a lot of us had, but we don’t do that anymore. It will all play out in our judicial system, just as our forefathers wrote it down, but we may never know why an act so senseless occurred.
On the other hand, we do know why some succeed in life. This week, we grieved and celebrated the life of Neil McMurry – the Wyomingite who grew up in a home of love and thrift and developed a work ethic that few achieve and, as we explain today, was a part of the “greatest generation.” Having spent WWII in the Army Air Force, he came home and took his first business risk – something he was never afraid to do. He had a great respect for ranching and farming, and in his early construction years, he and his partner constructed numerous reservoirs and ditches in central Wyoming. After he hit big in natural gas, he bought land and ranches, most notably the Warren Livestock in southeast Wyoming and others in central Wyoming. While few said it was luck, Neil just said that he “was always prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.” He was prepared because he worked at it harder than most. Then he would share the results of that hard work by donating it back to Wyoming.
He will be remembered as one of the great ones as he has left his mark all over Wyoming. Neil was someone you respected. He was Wyoming.