ONE OF THE VICTIMS OF TODAY’S SHOOTING IN TUCSON WAS JUDGE JOHN ROLL, a man I have met through my work in the government and found to be a fair Judge and a kind man. His service to this state and the federal courts will be missed.
TUCSON, AZ, the city I’ve known and lived in for many years, has been shaken by the violence of a young man, Jared Lee Loughner, known for having some anger issues in the recent past. It is difficult to understand why this tragic shooting of Judge John Roll and injury of Congress woman Gabrielle Gifford, and the death and injury of others happened, and it leaves people scrambling for answers when so many questions exist. Why did this happen? What was going through the shooter’s mind? Was there any way this could have been prevented?
In this day of 24 hour news and controversial political talk shows, the lines of politics and freedom of speech are being distorted. It has been said you can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded room, but, when political shows suggest taking down your government, that is exactly what they are doing. Rather than focusing on being a voice of reasonable debate, they are incite people to anger. This creates an anxiety in people, and they begin to fear the government is not looking out for their best interests.
When people feel that they are not being heard and that their representatives are not honoring their wishes, they raise their voices. Some even yell and get angry. Some blame the government for their problems and, rather than taking it to a vote, they go to the streets in protest – or worse, they take matters into their own hands, which can lead to violence.
The political finger-pointing has to stop. Some people will blame gun laws or government-subsidized healthcare, but I blame the infighting and hostility we feel between each other. Rather than direct our anger outwards and place blame on others, this is the time to point our fingers back at ourselves and ask, “What can I do to help?”
We may not all be political activists, but we can shape political futures with our attitudes. I suggest we look at our own anger and fear we hold inside and notice the affect these emotions have on us and those around us. Instead of ranting and railing about what’s wrong with our country, we can choose to talk in a positive manner about what we want out for our futures, focusing our minds and hearts on everything we do. Projecting our good intentions will speak much louder than the angry rants of political bias.
It is love and understanding that moves us forward as a society. Each time we accept others and remove the fear of being a misunderstood outsider, we move closer to being one people. By communicating with one another about these heated issues, we can create a common understanding by all sides. The minority will still feel represented, and their fears of not being heard will subside, and, through them speaking up, they will no longer be in the minority.
The worst thing we could do is encourage this anger, as many of this political shows do and produce fear that backs the minority into a corner in which they feel the need the defend their positions by lashing out in violent behavior. This only incites mob mentality and is reckless journalism.
Instead of spreading the fear and the anger that lead to the murder of the people trying to shape this great country, we need to spread education and reach out to those in fear. Let them know that, in this time of great struggle, we can stand together and raise social consciousness.
Turn off the political hate speech and turn on the love in our hearts. Go out and listen to someone that is different and learn why they see things that way. Maybe then we can come to a common understanding. We don’t have to agree, but we can respect what others believe. And, through discussion, we can settle arguments without violence and give a voice to those that feel unheard.