If we want things to be different, we must act and do differently.
Wednesday’s baseball shooting left several injured and one dead.
In things I never thought I’d say, I must agree with both President Trump and Sen. McCaskill — unity, not division should be the goal at this day’s end.
It’s impossible to ignore the toxic political polarization or that as Professor Jacobson discussed last night, yesterday’s events were the unavoidable outcome of years of incitement. This much is pure fact.
Did the rhetoric and general political climate play a factor in Hodgkinson’s assassination attempt? We don’t know. But regardless of all mitigating factors, the only person responsible for Hodgkinson’s actions is Hodgkinson.
The compulsion to blame is understandable. But it’s also counterproductive.
Jim Geraghty from National Review explains:
“Political passions are not an inherent stepping stone to violence. No matter how satisfying it is to claim that the latest outrage proves that the majority of the opposition is enraged bloodthirsty maniacs, it remains a lie.
We are now trapped in a cycle where conservatives feel unfairly blamed for the “climate of hate” after the Tucson shooting and are eager to play the same card against liberals. It’s hard to begrudge the feeling, but it doesn’t make it any more true. At at some point, if the cynical claim that impassioned political speech causes violence is used frequently enough, people will start to believe it – and attempt to restrict it.
This guy did enough damage today. Don’t let the First Amendment be collateral damage, too.”
Yet, it’s possible to simultaneously recognize the gaslighting, the toxicity, the hatred, to continue to speak truth to the lies and expose the malice and still refuse the same, tired ol’ political blame game. What makes a good political score makes for a terribly dangerous country.
After years of the exact.same.cycle playing out over and over and over again, I would hope that at some point, we will decide to get off the merry-go-round and move on towards productivity. The status quo is not working.
The collective desire to be “right” and to prove wrongness is hindering our ability to find even the smallest shred of consensus. Yelling about gun control won’t undo the damage done to our country. Neither will reposting Kathy Griffin’s horrible bloody-headed photo op.
If change is what we really desire, we’d be better off closing the computer, putting the phone down and instead, focusing on helping others.
Change does not begin or really happen in Washington or any other government house — it happens at home, as President Reagan so famously advised. Government houses merely reflect the heart of the American home.
It matters greatly how we talk about others, engage with our neighbors and everyone we encounter in this life.
The only way to effectively right the ship is by spending more time listening and less time yelling. By taking the time to find even the smallest parcel of common ground on which to begin (it exists if we can exercise the patience required to find it).
For better or worse, we are all part of this great American experiment together. But we’ve created an environment that makes it an unforgivable political sin to reach across the aisle in search of commonality and agreement.
It’s the humanity we share that ought to bring us together. In his address after the shooting, Speaker Ryan asked for a moment of reflection and the willingness to focus that which unites us:
Dr. King said it best:
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”
If we want things to be different, we must act and do differently. It is far easier to blame than it is to do, but ultimately, it is up to each of us to do our part to ensure this country, our home, and our future is the absolute best it can possibly be. Should we fail in this task, I genuinely fear for what lies ahead.
In all we do and say may we find the grace to respond with love.
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