As most of you are aware there was a tragedy this Saturday January 8th that left six people dead and 18 people wounded in a senseless act of violence in Arizona. The shooting was as we have learned, preplanned and brought to fruition by a mentally disturbed and troubled young man. This act violates everything we believe in about the nature of a civil society and we wish the injured the swiftest and complete recoveries.
The action was deplorable and the climate in which this sort of twisted act could take has been a quagmire of hate, intolerance, and fire and brimstone. Politics has always bartered with the coin of emotions and fear, but the past few years have seen an increase in intolerance, and increase in vitriol and a blatant disregard for public safety in our civil discourse.
Words have power and when they are thrown around in times of economic uncertainty they become more than mere rhetoric. They become driving forces that can in certain circumstances be the final push of those already on an unstable path. The sick and mentally ill are already struggling to survive in a society that does not care for them and casts them off as lost, but when an environment of hatred is bred and then made mainstream by the sheer amount of bombastic points of view, these people begin to feel normalcy in their sickness.
I will not blame a specific person, party or group, but I will blame the rest of us who silently support the type of political claptrap by being ourselves silent. We cannot sit by and reward those who spread hatred and bile by simply turning the channel or changing the radio dial. We must oppose hatred with understanding. We must stand up against those who would try to frighten us into believing that political matters are life and death. We need to confront, not ignore.
It is time that we stop hiding in our own chosen political silos and start again listening, confronting in a civil way those who have opposing views, but also understanding those opposing views. I've suggested this book a million times, but I will do it again.
The Big Sort by Robert Cushing
This book talks about how the political divide in the United States has grown into a chasm due to a variety of factors and that chasm is spreading ever further ironically with the increase in information. We need to stop isolating ourselves with opinions, news and radio that confirm our own beliefs. We need to once again temper our opinions so that we do not ourselves become extreme in our views. Extremism is the enemy of a civil society.