This week, America's been asking itself if it's gone mad, again, since the shootings in Tucson, Ariz.
It's a grim story. There's soul searching. Accusations are countered. We should marvel at modern medicine and some individuals' presence of mind to act calmly under fire.
The underlying cause will be found more in psychology than sociology. The mysteries of the brain will be better known with good news reporting on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' recovery and prosecution of her would-be assassin Jared Lee Loughner, 22.
An innocent girl and those other good citizens - leaders in their own way - are dead or wounded.
Judges in nearby jurisdictions have been concerned for their public safety beyond courthouse walls. Our jurists may seem closer to the streets, but Loughner wasn't a street criminal.
There's an irrationality arising from whatever motivates desperation. Or does desperation create irrationality?
That prompts this counterbalancing tale of community told here last week, and what one of our elected leaders - in several public profiles - said of a long-standing irrationality in our public system.
And, it's something that can be changed.
First the optimistic view.
Regular readers here know of a fire that damaged, but did not destroy, a home in the Farmington-Rich Creek area. Part of the story is that the house was built tight. More air didn't get in and the house didn't burn as much.
There was quick response by firefighters in a part of the county that -- generally -- needs another department. And the fire chief of the planned volunteer service at Caney Springs says his crew wants to build a fire hall. FRCVFD got mutual aid from volunteers from Chapel Hill and Berlin. The Lions Club's extra value -- camaraderie -- was evident after the fire, as were offers from and concerns among friends and others for the family.
To some, this isn't new. They wouldn't live anywhere else. Here, they're somebody who matters, and they care.
The added insight is from County Commissioner Dean Delk, principal at Chapel Hill Elementary, past principal at Forrest, a coach, guardsman, and he was a good friend to Elmer Fudd. It's true. Ask him.
The mother in the family with a burned home is fluent in Spanish. She's from Ecuador. She wasn't certified to teach Spanish when Delk wanted to hire her. Because of well-intended rules, a teacher fluent in German, who doesn't speak Spanish, was hired. The certified teacher, Delk said, uses a tape recorder to teach Spanish.
That was "more than five years ago," Delk said.
Now, the woman from Ecuador tutors students having trouble with language studies and she's an interpreter for the courts.
Now, her children can get replacements for sports awards that burned, Delk said.
Now, Tennessee will let a professional mathematician or scientist teach with a waiver.
Why can't someone who speaks Spanish get a waiver?
"That's the system," Delk said.
That's desperately irrational.
There are other examples.
SNAFU - Situation Normal, All Fouled Up - needs changing.
These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.