Stay away from trouble, avoid getting hurt

Imagine the following scene: There is a horrible house fire in a neighborhood, complete with billowing smoke and leaping flames. The sound of exploding glass and shattering support beams carries for miles, and the noxious fumes from the blaze assault noses and eyes with an acrid, stinging odor.

You’d think people would want to be as far away from something this miserable, but anyone who knows about human nature would tell you that’s probably not the case.

They want to see what’s going on, so they crowd around the burning house, watching the terrible spectacle with a strange sort of morbid awe.

The people seem to forget they are standing close to an uncontrolled fire or that they are placing themselves in an unsafe situation. Their natural curiosity (some might call it nosiness) beats out their sense of danger and their instinct for self-preservation.

I think the May 4, 1970, incident was much the same thing.

In the records of what happened, it is well-known there were crowds of people there just gawking, essentially waiting for something to happen. Tensions were high, and people were being warned by the National Guard to back off. But that didn’t seem to stop anyone from trying to get a bird’s eye view of what was happening. You’d think there would be warning bells clanging loudly in someone’s brain, making him or her think twice about making an appearance at this event. People brandishing guns tend to cause people without them to think, “Danger, danger, Will Robinson! Some major shit is about to go down!”

Well, apparently, those self-protective thoughts were either ignored or were downplayed by the looky-loos, because they didn’t back off — they stayed and watched. And we all know what happened next.

Now, I am not saying anyone deserved to die or be shot — what happened was terrible. However, there is something to be learned from the event so that it’s never repeated again, and that lesson is that when trouble is a brewin’, it’s best to curb curiosity and keep your distance.

If you do stay away and anything bad happens, you can be assured of two things: You will be able to read about it in the newspaper the next day, and that bad thing didn’t happen to you.

Sarah Baldwin is a senior magazine journalism major and an editorial writer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].