Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Shooting in Washington

A congressman got shot this morning by a disturbed man with a rifle. The congressman was with a bunch of his colleagues at an early morning practice for the upcoming charity baseball game between Republicans and Democrats from Capital Hill. It's a tradition that's been going on for over a hundred years, a break from the political battles to play some ball and raise some money for charity. Now, this.

The shooter is dead. The congressman is in serious condition. The rest of us are reduced to watching the freak show that has broken out on Twitter and other places where insanity breeds. All of us, every single one of us need to be paying close attention to who says what. Everyone of us needs to be taking names. Later, when things calm down, we can all purge these people from our news feeds, our friends list and our Twitter follows. Here's a handy guide for the purge to come:

Anyone who says that the Congressman got what was coming to him because he was a Trump supporter...needs to be purged.

Anyone who tries to suggest that Bernie Sanders is responsible somehow for the actions of someone who voted for him...needs to be purged.

Anyone who tries to suggest that because the shooter was a fan of Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, and John Oliver, then all three of them are somehow to blame for this...needs to be purged.

Anyone who's hot take involved making the case that since the shooter might lose his health insurance if Obamacare gets repealed, then his actions could reasonably be construed as self defense...needs to be purged.

I've got a news flash for the lunatic fringes of the right and the left in this country. I don't have political enemies, I only have politicians with whom I disagree. If reading that sentence makes you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, then you, my friend, need to check yourself. No political liberal of good faith is my enemy. I am not the enemy of any liberal of good faith in America. We just disagree on things. Are there people from the left who are unhinged and unreasonably beyond the mainstream of progressive thought in this country? Sure there are. There are also people from the right who fit that description. Years ago, when Congresswoman Gabby Gifford was shot, many of them showed their true colors in their gleeful reaction to that attempted assassination. The next day...they got purged. In times of great stresses to our system, the best and worst of human instincts emerge. Take careful notes this go round. My Dad used to make this observation about how people react under stress...What's down in the well, always comes up in the bucket. What's inside of you, what's really inside of you will show itself in times like this. Look around you tonight. Take note of those who care only about the political affiliations of both the shooter and the victims. Avoid these the plague.

Earlier this week, ironically enough, I read an article by a well known commentator who asked the question Are we about to fall into civil war? I thought his premise overblown and ridiculous, largely because, to me, it's preposterous. The very idea that I would be willing to bear arms against my fellow Americans is lunacy. Perhaps I feel this way because I'm not a political animal. I don't live and breathe politics 24/7. I have much more important things to do with my life. I have a family to love and provide for. I have a business to run, clients to take care of, I have friends to support, a faith to live out, vacations to take, grass to cut, golf to play, baseball to obsess over. If a political party that I largely am at odds with comes into power, I get along with my life. It would  never, ever occur to me to pick up a gun and start shooting random Democrats on a baseball diamond. What is wrong with us??

The one encouraging image from all of this was a picture taken, I'm guessing, at a different field being used for practice by the Democratic team of Congressmen. Apparently, they had just heard the news about what had happened to their Republican counterparts across town. They had all gathered in the dugout and were huddled together saying a prayer for the fallen. It was a beautiful image, the only one of the day. This is what we once were, and it is what we desperately need to become again.

I love this country with all of my heart. Most of the people who I agree with on politics do too. But, you know what?  Most of the people across the aisle love it too.

Let's try to stop listening to the voices who don't.