When I was fourteen, my mother fell down the basement steps and landed in a coma. I found her. This began a three-month nightmare that included hours of surgery, days of unconsciousness, and months of recovery. Not knowing what she’d be able to do or who she’d be.
I’ve been reliving that time since Saturday when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was attacked.
To me, it’s personal.
Politics, too, is personal.
When I was twenty-two, I interned for a U.S. Congressman in New York. The calls that came in were ugly whenever there was controversial legislation up for vote. In those few months, I knew I could never be a politician or work for a politician.
I took it too personally.
Two times in our history, our country almost broke in two.
Slavery was ugly. It made for ugly politics. We fought a war to decide whether to preserve or divide our Union.
Segregation was the unfortunate outcome of slavery. That again threatened to divide our nation. The 1960s were an ugly time. There were protests and excessive force used against the protestors.
But what stays with me, are the assassinations.
The murderers often think by killing the messenger, you kill the message.
History has shown that is not the case.
Today, we don’t have slavery. We don’t have segregation. The divisive issues are the same ones that have been mulled over my entire lifetime. Don’t believe me? Watch a few old episodes of “Family Ties”.
So why have things become so ugly?
I am not standing on my soapbox, spouting my point of view about a myriad of issues.
This post is larger than an issue or a political ideology.
I fear we’ve lost our humanity.
Our center. Not only of the political spectrum, but ourselves.
We don’t talk about political parties or people in those parties the same way we used to.
Violence is advocated more and more.
I’m not saying the alleged shooter was sane. I’m not saying he did it because too many protestors and even leaders are hinting at or openly advocating violence. But when there’s so much hate coming out of people’s mouths, being played on 24-hour news stations…
We can’t ignore that this is negatively impacting our country.
Most of my followers are writers and/or teachers. It’s our job to expose the truth.
And we now live in a time when the truth is distorted for political gain.
We’re letting it happen.
Think I’m exaggerating?
Healthy debate is discouraged.
But aren’t books and classroom about engaging in healthy debate? In the real world that’s happening less and less.
My fear is this is all a distraction from what really matters. In a fast-changing world, we need to decide who we are. How to prepare for the changes. But instead we’re finger pointing, shouting, tossing blame at the other.
Dehumanizing the other.
Books have been reflecting this shift. I think it’s no coincidence that more and more dystopia, with governments oppressively controlling the people are becoming popular. Read Harry Potter 5/6/7. Read The Hunger Games series. Read Matched.
No matter where you are on the political spectrum. No matter what your religion. What’s happening is the antithesis of democracy.
A nine-year-old girl died in Arizona. I have an eight-year-old daughter.
A citizen wrote this on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page:
"It's ok. Christina Taylor Green was probably going to end up a left wing bleeding heart liberal anyway. Hey, as 'they' say, what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler as a kid? Exactly."
It may be now, but for quite a time it wasn’t removed. Other negative comments against Palin were, but this one stayed up.
While the person who wrote this post about Palin’s page may have an obvious political side, those words are Revolting. Shameful.
Imagine if Gabrielle Giffords were your mother and there was a map with a target on it…
Imagine if Christina Taylor Green were your daughter…
Who are we?
In which direction are we going?
I, for one, will call out representatives, political groups, and media outlets when there are calls for violence instead of common sense.
I will not stand idly by when people are dehumanized.
As citizens, we have the right for the truth. Our democracy demands it. If we let others finger-point and distort the truth, we lose it all.
I want what happened in Arizona to be a wake up call.
Are you with me?