Following Kroger tragedy, reverend says we can’t ‘let absurd be defined as normal’

The Rev. Ronald Oliver, from Norton Healthcare, said it's sad that the question has to be asked...
The Rev. Ronald Oliver, from Norton Healthcare, said it's sad that the question has to be asked whether a shooting should be considered a hate crime.(Source: WAVE 3 News)
Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 at 6:05 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Six days after a gunman entered the Jeffersontown Kroger and opened fire, loved ones gathered to say their final goodbyes to one of the two people who were killed.

Maurice Stallard was laid to rest Tuesday. He had gone to the grocery store with his grandson when, police said, Gregory Bush shot and killed him, then came outside and gunned down a woman named Vickie Jones in the parking lot. That grocery store and parking lot were full of people when bullets were flying.

City leaders and law enforcement have called the shooting a hate crime. Witnesses said Bush targeted his victims because they looked different than him.

Just days later, another hate crime took place in Pittsburgh; this time, 11 people were shot dead at a synagogue. The suspected shooter told police he targeted a congregation because of who they worship. Both of these tragedies have revealed many emotions, leaving many wondering how to process it all.

“It’s just sad that we even have to ask that question,” Rev. Ronald Oliver, from Norton Healthcare, said.

Oliver is System Vice President for Norton Healthcare’s Mission and Outreach. He said a few things have crossed his mind following each of the tragedies.

“It’s not surprising anymore,” Oliver said. “That was disturbing to me and to others that it feels like the next one as opposed to the one. One of the dangers that happens to any of us is when we let the absurd be defined as normal.”

Oliver said what’s different this time around is that the Kroger shooting was right in our backyard. To see and feel these moments can have an impact.

“For some people it is very debilitating,” Oliver said. “For others, and I would say for many, being that close to something so life-threatening can provide a very clarifying sense of what life is about and what is important in life.”

Oliver said he was talking about relationships.

“One of the things I realized is that I need to consume less and connect more,” Rev. Oliver said. “Social media has its place and does wonderful things for us. It seems to be a pretty poor substitute for the deeper human connections of relationships.”

Whether its faith, family or friends, Oliver said it’s OK to ask for help.

“Sometimes it’s so scary that you need to go talk to somebody; it’s OK,” Oliver said. “Go take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid of what you are afraid of.”

Oliver also said it’s about realizing that it’s fear that gets many people in these situations.

“Fear about the other seems to diminish when I get to know the other; (it) dates back to that relationship,” Oliver said.

Oliver said anyone can do something that makes a difference to dilute the sorrow in the world in some special way.

The staff at Norton Children’s Hospital, “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center was impacted by what happened in Pittsburgh, and how it must have affected their counterparts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Norton said the staff collected donations and had box lunches delivered to the UPMC Emergency Department on Tuesday, and pizzas being delivered Tuesday evening as a gesture to “aid in their recovery and give them strength.”

Maurice Stallard, one of two people shot dead at the Jeffersontown Kroger last week, will be laid to rest this morning. Hear how his friends are honoring him >>

Posted by WAVE 3 News on Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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