Yesterday, near Tucson, Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while holding a neighborhood political meeting at her local Safeway Grocery Store.
She wasn't the only victim...19 others were shot...6 killed, one of whom was a 9-year old little girl.
Jared Loughner was the one...the one who pulled the trigger, and kept pulling it.
And all in the name of POLITICS...POLITICAL IDEALS...POLITICAL BELIEFS.
So WHY are Americans so surprised by this violence?
Have they not been listening to the venom that courses through the nation's most recent political rhetoric? Rhetoric that started right after President Obama was elected? Rhetoric brought to volatile levels during the campaigns leading to the last election? Political venom promoted by far too many...
Freedom of Speech...
Maybe so...but, maybe no...
We are going through very tough economic and social times now. People being people, they must blame someone/something else for their lot in Life...something/someone else besides themselves and their own actions.
Democrats...a Black President...a State Representative targeted in the crosshairs on a former governor's web site...Abortion Rights...Illegal Immigrants...the list of "reason" is truly endless.
So, then, when all is said and done, WHO is at fault?
Blame replaces ACCOUNTABILITY...Blame shifts the focus from CHOICE to MOTIVATION/INSPIRATION. It also makes it much easier to use words like "mental issue"..."deranged"..."crazy"...when speaking about the one, or ones, who commit the violence.
And yet, we MUST ask...
If it were not for the speeches and web sites pushing and prodding people towards violent behavior...violence as a necessary solution for our problems...would it still happen in the form it has taken?
If the answer is unanimously YES, then so be it...
But, if the answer is a resounding NO, then those promoting the madness MUST BE, by the very nature of their message, be held ACCOUNTABLE.
I was born in 1956, and grew up during the Civil Rights and Viet Nam War Eras.
As a teenager, I was active in movements to give equal rights to all folks and to end a war that no one wanted.
Throughout my activist years, the greatest ACTION...the most productive ACTION...was that which was inspired by WORDS and NON-VIOLENCE.
PEACE was a lifestyle, not just a notion.
Political change was ignited by editorials and speeches...by sit-ins and marches...by rallies and meetings... all calling for a new Way of LIVING and treating our fellow Human Beings.
In the end, true political change took place through a paradigm shift in THINKING and ACTING, and, ultimately, through the VOTE.
And yet, Human History is filled with examples of VIOLENCE being used to force CHANGE...for better, or for worse...
Was Loughner simply listening to the voice of his HUMAN NATURE ?
I would like to believe that WE are better than that...that WE have evolved beyond the NEED for violence as the answer...that we have replaced our baser "demons" with our gentler "angels".
Yet every day...in far too many communities...there is a news story that points to our "demons" winning the race.
Something to ponder...