Sunday, January 9, 2011

self-restraint

When a horrific event like yesterday's shootings in Tucson happen many knee-jerk reactions occur. Accusations fly and often there are as many verbal targets as there were physical ones. Some people will angrily call for fixes, based on their particular point of view. And then people on the "other side" will respond just as angrily. This is understandable, since people are scared and hurt and helpless. No one, in their right mind, likes to see anyone senselessly hurt, and it scares us to see this happen so easily.

I personally believe there are just too many firearms in our society which raises the odds of these tragic events, just like too much brush around houses during fire season raises the odds of people losing their homes. And I think we are often desensitized to violence because of its presence in much of what we see and hear. We see it in games, stories, even cartoons, and forget that in the real world it has severe consequences.

But beyond that there is another issue. All the calls for personal responsibility, from many corners, stop short of asking us to watch our words. The usual response to calls to "ratchet it down" is...as it was yesterday..."that's censorship". One group in the area that has been notably harsh in its rhetoric during the past political campaign stated that it was not going to change the way it spoke, citing free speech rights. I am reminded of the Malcolm quote from Jurrassic Park"your scientists were so preoccupied with what they could do, that they didn't think about whether they should". Just because we can, and thanks to the internet can do it anonymously, doesn't mean we should.

We are blessed with the freedom in this country to say what we think , but with that comes the responsibility to speak wisely. The shooter wasn't some battered veteran of life's bruises and bad breaks who finally snapped and lashed out with a gun. No, he was a kid. barely out of college, not in his right mind, who had obviously been exposed to a lot of vitriolic, hateful words, by those who dump their verbal garbage online with no hint of caring what damage it might do in the wrong hands.

This is not a partisan thing. I don't really care from whence it comes. Hate and hurt know no ideology,no party, no race. And, it is as true today as when I first heard it: "Hurt people'" hurt people. It doesn't matter who "started' it, we have a responsibility to all do our part to try and end it. Think before you speak..and think of who might be listening, and how they might take your words.

This isn't just about violence. Not all wounds are visible. Words themselves can cut and kill. And just because someone doesn't have the means to lash out doesn't mean they are any less injured. Most just hide in the shadows.

As people of faith we are called to build up, to encourage, to strengthen our fellow man. But I think in our quest to be "right" we have forgotten that. We are called to be our "brother's (and sister's) keeper", to make sure our speech is "full of grace", and to "love (our) neighbor as (ourselves)". We each need to ask ourselves again " how do I use my words?" , for none can be truly taken back once they are said (or written).

3 comments:

  1. If we are to seek peace, connection with others and growth, there are certain things we must accommodate and others that need to be left by the trail side. For travelers West, they needed to take a scrutinous view of everything they carried in their wagon for it meant success or failure as to their goal of surviving the Oregon Trail. Or the one to Sacramento. "Will it continue to serve us or should it be discarded?" is the question they had to ask about everything from a favorite but now useless pot, a wheel that, under normal circumstances could be repaired, and even fellow travelers.

    Many died along the way. Some suffered because they took the wrong advice and met dire times (i.e. the Donner party) while others suffered a broken wagon train due to bickering, in-fighting and equipment failure.

    In every case though, it was the view of the whole mission that determined success or failure. It was the reality that nothing could be held onto for perceived or sentimental value and certainly nothing that detracted from the mission itself. If it became apparent that a new trail was not useful, an animal not able or a strategy inferior, they were to be discarded immediately.

    When I hear people hark back to the 2nd amendment as their "right" to bear arms, it makes me wonder if, in fact, the arms that those who penned this amendment were the ones in use today. Actually, it does not. I know that the "arms" the writers were thinking of were quite different and the motivation for writing this amendment was based on the threat, at that time upon the new nation, that was, England, potentially France and Indian. But in every case, it was to defend the nation.

    So now we are talking about intent and specificity. These are the two weak legs fervent supporters of today's weaponry stand on. That and the mass of insecure and "very patriotic" folk who insist that they will give up their guns when the weapons must be pried "from their cold dead hands".

    Until their hands are indeed cold, dead and wrapped around a modern weapon of choice, I must ask, will they likewise support the "cold dead hands" of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green who was killed at the hands of a semi-automatic 9 mm with extended magazine? I think not.

    Her attendance at the Tucson "Congress On Your Corner" event held on December 8 was with the intention to understand how her government worked. Why would a 9-year-old want to understand her government? She was a member of her elementary school student government and took a keen interest as even her birth was on a momentous day for this nation, September 11, 2001. Will these vehement gun folk ardently support young Christina's "cold dead hands"?

    Again, I say, not likely. Not if it means opening their hearts to humanity, daring to expose their insecurities and connecting with the value people hold both intrinsically and in excess of the 2nd amendment. An amendment that was written for the safety of those living in treacherous times in the likelihood that the young new nation would survive IF ONLY they were able to defend that new nation.

    I say, who will defend Christina Taylor Green? Who will defend those who are law-abiding, peace-loving citizens from those with easy access to unimaginably powerful weapons? Will this child of peace and curiosity be remembered? If so, by whom? For it is by whom that matters when it comes to peace. Peace in Tucson, peace in Arizona, peace in this nation and all over the world.

    Paris Saizan
    http://parislikes.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Correction: January 8, 2011 was the date of the "Congress On Your Corner" event, not December 8 - paris

    ReplyDelete
  3. very well put Paris....it is unfortunate that people don't have the grasp of history that you do...it always amazes me how ignorant people are of history (though as a history major in college I am a little biased:)
    and how they quickly pass over/ignore the purpose clause of the 2nd amendment- like the "militia" part didn't matter:(
    thanks for sharing:)

    ReplyDelete