I really don't know if I have anything new or different to add to the conversation about what happened in Arizona yesterday. I am praying for the families whose lives have been turned upside-down by this tragedy and for the people of Gabrielle Gifford's district who are no doubt trying to make sense of all this. Most of the responses I have seen this morning talk about the language of violence that has seeped into (or invaded) our political rhetoric. I am thinking about that, too. It is sad. It is wrong. It has been happening for a long time. There have been plenty of people who have noticed this trend, spoken up, and found themselves ignored for comments deemed "politically motivated".
Some of those people who spoke up found themselves embroiled in yesterday's shooting. Giffords, herself, spoke out about the subject after the now-famous Sarah Palin "crosshair map". Some of the people who ignored her complaints then are saying better things now. I hope they mean it. Perhaps now we will be willing to re-think how we communicate our differences.
As for the rest of us, we could try to be more caring and gentle, too. We all carry some responsibility for the environment we live in. Some of what I see in the political rhetoric is the logical outgrowth of the way we "regular" people treat each other in public and in private. There are times when simple and minor differences are viewed as an assault on our own personhood. I have been around the 'burbs long enough to see those shouting/shoving matches between "grown-ups" at kids sports. Like all of you, I have found myself in the gossip mill from time to time. We have all seen acts of selfishness and verbal abuse between adults. Yes, children, too, but the fact is bullies often grow up to be bigger bullies. Often they are the ones who set the tone of our discourse.
So today if you are driving, don't cut people off. Better yet, driving or not, let someone in ahead of you in line. Compliment someone else's kid at hockey today. Move more slowly, more carefully. If you have worries, try to keep them in perspective. Think about someone else. Reach out. Hug your children. Turn off your TV. Try being fully human at a time when we clearly need the practice. The fact is, we are all human beings and disagreeing on matters of faith or tax policy or whatever else we deem insurmountable in the moment is no reason to treat each other the way we do.
Here is a link to an article I found this morning in the New York Times. I was particularly captured by the thoughtful words of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
Be good to each other, people...