Monday, January 10, 2011

Death and the Maiden

  It's a sad, sad thing that happened in Tucson. Shocking and terrible and tragic. At this point, one can only hope that Congresswoman Gifford survives with her mind intact. And one can only feel sympathy for those who lost loved ones.
  A period of quiet and reflection should follow something like this.
  But the blame game is already in full swing. We seem to not be able to wait til after the funerals.
  Everyone angrily says we should tone down the nasty rhetoric from all sides.
It's all the angry talk.
It's all the personal hateful talk.
It's the fault of Sarah Palin.
It's the fault of the tea party.
It's the fault of the Democrats.
I'm sure someone somewhere is blaming Obama.
  Walt Kelly's Pogo once said "We have met the enemy and it is us."
Oh how true.
  I don't think blame can be laid at any one person's door—even tho I so would like to.
  There are a lot of things to consider here. I believe that definitely the kind of personal attacks going on in the last couple years created a climate where bad things are more likely to happen. If you want to point fingers at someone, Sharron Angle's comment about "second amendment solutions" seems more inflammatory to me than the ill-advised and tasteless cross-hairs on Palin's website. But both are part of a viciously negative milieu which has been part of our lives since Obama was elected.
  The people showing up at political rallies and congressional meetings with 'Obama as Hitler' posters are part of this. I condemn it, but I know that some of us on the left of center side were as insulting and dismissive of George Bush. I remember with some embarrassment the posters and things we said about Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War. None of us, today and back then, offered anything to rational political discourse.
   It is so easy to fall into the trap of demonizing those we disagree with—especially if they have more power than we do. (I think that someone could do a good social studies paper on that power difference as a factor in violent action and speech.) (Probably someone already has. If either of my readers know of such a thing, please direct me.)
  Your curmudgeon is part of all this, in his own small way. I recall that I have more than once referred to Senator Mitch McConnell as a liar. It is true that I believe that he is. But it would have been better had I written about the things he said and then the facts he had misrepresented and let others draw a conclusion. It's so easy to let anger and frustration get the better of one, especially when one doesn't feel like one can make a difference in the face of political and monetary power.
  The social milieu—it didn't pull the trigger, but it made the trigger easier to pull. Being in the vitriolic political atmosphere we have been in is like walking into a room full of people smoking pot. You may not smoke yourself, but you will get high. And if everyone around you is complaining and angry, it will affect you too. And affect the mentally disturbed even more.
  Anger has it's place, and should be acknowledged and utilised. And it should be utilised as a spur to one's own action and resolve to change things, not as a reason to berate people and poison the atmosphere. Or to kill.
  This computer I am on is a contributor to all this. The ability to anonymously post any kind of statement in a blog or comment box at a news article has added to the noxious atmosphere. It's one thing to spout off at the bar or at your bowling league practice. If you get too vitriolic someone will call you on it or people will just start avoiding you. You will have a response up close and personal to your speech or actions. It's another thing to spout off on line. No one knows who you are, and anyone who responds either is met with derision if they try to be reasonable or met with hostility if they respond in kind. It's easy to ignore the criticism of unknown strangers, harder to ignore the criticism of your bowling partner.
  And then there is the availability of guns. I don't object to people owning guns if they want to. Some hunt, some skeet shoot, some are afraid of being robbed or killed. And some want to kill. I don't believe that it is possible to forbid every mental defective or malefactor from getting a weapon. The man who shot Congresswoman Gifford is a case in point.
  I do believe there are things that we can do to make sure that the damage done by the evil or insane is lessened. Maybe not allowing large clips of ammunition would be a start. What if the shooter last Saturday only had six bullets in his gun? Wouldn't have stopped the attack,but might have made a difference to someone. Maybe to a nine-year old girl.
  I'm not advocating one particular action, or taking a position here. I do think that those who are rabidly opposed to any kind of restriction on weapon ownership should start looking at possible sensible ways to alleviate a situation where weapons can be so easily attained. And not attack those who oppose them as people who want to make it easier for the government to crush us. Those who oppose weaponry might want to step back and listen to those on the other side, acknowledge their reasons and/or fears, and not attack them as paranoids afraid of their own country and government, or malcontents ready to overthrow the government.
  We have a lot to do folks. we're all upset now because of the shooting in Tucson, as we should be, but there are killings going on in all our cities, gang related, insanity related, poverty related, domestic violence related.
And we should be as upset at all of them. Every life is important, and the lost life of a teen-ager in the inner city to violence is as important as the lost life of a congresswoman or President in God's eyes.
  As humans, we tend to hold the life of a congressperson or President more important than others—at least we think it more noteworthy. But it is only the ability to wield power which makes the difference in those lives, and what is power? It is more fleeting than life itself. And it leads so often to the loss of life, especially among the innocent.

1 comment:

Dorothy Carlo said...

Well said,thanks. I will post this on my Facebook page if I can figure out how to do it as it is worthy of dissemination.