I have to say something tonight about the tragic shooting/killing that took place in Arizona today, leaving a Congresswoman struggling to survive a bullet through her brain, at least six dead (including a 9 year old child and a federal judge). Somewhere between 12 and 17 people were shot as the Congresswoman visited a grocery store to make herself available to her constituents. The 22-year old boy who wrought all this tragedy and chaos is clearly mentally unbalanced. He is not cooperating with the police last I heard, so his motives can only be surmised from bizarre rantings and videos on his My Space page. Maybe I'm projecting something that doesn't exist, but I think that the political insanity that has prevailed in this country of late feeds the confusion of troubled minds like that of this boy. When political disagreement gets wrapped in messages that say Progressives and liberals hate the country, that they are plotting to destroy democracy, that they are socialists and enemies of the state... it poisons all discourse. It cripples the possibility of effective governing because it polarizes us. It feeds fear and bigotry and the ugliest aspects of the human spirit. When people like Sarah Palin draw gun site targets on political opponents, or someone like Sharon Angle calls for "2nd amendment remedies" if your candidate doesn't win; when people like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh spew poisonous slurs and encourage revolution... it isn't "just talk." It has the power to further damage minds already sick. It has the power to feed racism by pretending it's something else. When politicians who know better let lies linger with denials that don't quite deny ("if the President "says" he's a Christian, I guess I have to take him at his world," "if he "says" that he was born in America, I have to take him at his word.") - feed rumors and distrust and festering bigotry in an effort to damage the President. They seem to forget that this ugliness damages the country right along with the President. It's ugly. It makes us look stupid. Anyway, all this malice, all this turning one another into enemies instead of people who disagree has borne it's ultimate fruit.
|Gabrielle Giffords, Dem. Rep. - shot in the head|
and so many others dead or recovering.
I hope we will pray for them and for the boy who shot them.
I think it's sad that this sick young man is likely to be the only one held accountable. There are so many people who bear responsibility. That said, I need to look at myself in this as well. I try very hard not to get sucked into the polarization, but I don't always succeed. I have fallen into the us and them view of government. All those people who say I don't love America or am a socialist because I think everyone should have health care piss me off. I get reactive. I try not to, but I do.
Anyway, words matter. They have power. I'm reminded of the Tale of the Two Wolves: