There are far more informed and eloquent posts floating around these inter-webs about the tragedy that happened at the Safe Way grocery store in Tucson Saturday. I just feel the need to purge my thoughts and write a small post about it. It may not inspire or be truly insightful, but I feel the need.
I think we all agree it is a senseless tragedy and for once it was surreal hearing neighbors and acquaintances saying "he was a nut-job" instead of the common "he was so nice, we would've never suspected this". I think I deal with a certain level of crazy in my world, and I can identify with the unknown. The ability to see that you are unaware of what might come next. You cannot fathom the things that could happen in the future in the minds of crazy people but sometimes you just know it will not end well.
Let's ponder the political element for a bit. I believe that our political environment is far too divisive. I have talked about our country being torn down the middle before. I think that people look at each other with disgust and anger when they don't agree. I think people result to name calling and hate speech when they cannot see a common ground. It scares me and has for some time. I have stopped being any sort of political on here and in my life over the last few years because to me it makes me ill. It turns my stomach. It makes my OCD go off the charts. I am completely unable to make people see that my side could be viable, and if not that I have the right to think it is without angering them. It always seems it is either one way or the highway. I think we have long since removed the ability to agree to disagree for the most part. I understand arguing your belief, but I think the ugliness is absolutely unnecessary. I am thankful I live in a country were I can disagree with you and still respect that you have that same right. I think far too few of us exercise that right.
So what do I do now? I don't share opinions politically unless asked. I don't argue points. I try not to get drawn into discussions that seem to be heading south. I don't even insert my opinions at family functions anymore even when I believe what they are saying has no factual basis. We have stopped watching all the talking heads at home, we don't surround ourselves with the divisive world of politics. It was making both my husband and myself angry and obsessive. We decided it was too much. We try to keep informed, but limit the opinion factor.
While I will say that there is ugliness on both sides, I will say that the terminology that has been used both in some of the Republican party and the Tea Party is just plain irresponsible. Things like "Don't Retreat, Reload." "We came unarmed, this time". Some of these quotes literally make me ill:
"I hope that's not where we're going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out." ~Sharon Angle
''Our nation was founded on violence. The option is on the table. I don't think that we should ever remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms.''
—Tea Party-backed Texas GOP congressional candidate Stephen Broden
'I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. ... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out.''
—Glenn Beck, May 17, 2005
"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country" - Michelle Bachmann
Really? Just wow!
Now, do I believe that these people and those like them are responsible for Jared Loughner's actions. No. He bears the brunt of his actions. He alone will have to atone for those sins. But did rhetoric like the above help to form his warped views? I think that could be absolutely possible. I understand that we are a nation that is founded on the premise of Free Speech. I get that you can talk about "Second Amendment Remedies" in a political speech but what possesses us to stand up and cheer for that? When did this become normal. When did it become alright to put gun cross hairs over a congressional district with a directive to "take down" the opposing incumbents? Really? When did we become so okay with violent imagery and rhetoric? These political opponents are real people, not avatars in a video game!
If indeed rhetoric like this shaped the Arizona Shooter's views and possibly caused the crazy that lives inside his head to carry out the plan on Saturday, then we as a nation are just as guilty for allowing it to continue. We nurtured it by tuning in to it. We groomed it by repeating it. We made it blossom by cheering it on. We made it okay by not standing up and saying "This is not okay!"
If Palin, Angle, Beck, Bachmann and countless others need to rethink their choices in the wake of this tragedy then we all need to rethink our inaction. ENOUGH is ENOUGH.
Anniversary//Light The World: Day 16
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