Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Senseless Shootings and the Blame Game

Tragedy is a part of life.

I don't care if you believe the opposite.

I don't believe you can avoid it.  It's going to happen.  It's part of the price we pay to have freedom. 

Natural disasters have a human component.  A hurricane strikes a city causing massive flooding, billions of dollars in damages, and hundreds of lives lost.  There is still freedom involved.

People chose to live on the coast.

People chose to stay in the city.

People chose to redirect funds from strengthening levees and used them for other purposes.

But, they had the freedom of choice to live where they wished.

Terrorist attacks have the choice component added as well, except to a whole other degree.

Folks choose to commit the attacks.  They choose to strike terror by harming innocent people.

Then, we choose how we wish to respond to said attacks. 

Usually, there are crowds which scream, "Safety at all cost!"

And others who wonder what freedoms will be taken away to ensure said safety.

There are always those who try to make sense out of such senseless acts.  There is a need within us to rationalize, to find reason, to find blame for events taking place.  Blame Obama!  Blame Bush!  Blame liberals!  Blame conservatives! 

Geez.  Give me a break.

Stop trying to politicize each and every tragedy which occurs.  They are bad enough as they are.

As I type, there is still a spin war over the tragic shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and several others in the state of Arizona.  Tragically, six lost their lives including a 9 year old little girl.  Not content to label the shooter as a mentally disturbed individual, those from both the far left and far right are blaming each side for warping the mind of the shooter and leading up to this tragedy. 

Within hours, the sheriff of Tuscon blamed talk radio and heated political rhetoric.  As his feet were held to the fire, he admitted he had no evidence what-so-ever that this was the case with the shooter, but it was his opinion.  "Period."

Well, I'm sorry.  Everyone knows what opinions are like.

They are not facts.

They are based in perception and perspective and not necessarily verifiable. 

Mr. Sheriff, please do your job, and leave your personal feelings out of it.  I know that is very hard since your good friend was shot and another was killed.  Not trying to lessen your loss, but please do not let your feelings take over and ruin an investigation and cast blame where it should not be cast.  Those comments you made only serve to divide a nation as it seeks to come to grip with this event.

I know folks want to blame something, anything. 

I know folks want to find someone or something to point their fingers at for the cause of all their anxiety, grief, sadness, anger, and other negative feelings.

It's easy to demonize those who do not share our perspective, our principles, our values, our points of view.

Yet, is this healthy?

I'm a parent.  I have three great kids.  I used to wonder how a parent could lose it and strike his or her child.

I don't wonder anymore.

My middle child had a touch of colic.  When it attacked, there was absolutely nothing anyone could do to make her stop crying.  In the middle of the night, when you are worn out from a hard day's work, and you really need your sleep, and the kid wakes up screaming bloody murder, and you have a long day ahead of you, and she won't quiet down, you feel the anger rising up.  You get frustrated.  Your thoughts turn to rage.

But, if you have an ounce of self control, you stop right there.  You go no further.  You realize you are the adult, and adults do not strike helpless infants.  Even through the fog of sleeplessness, anger, and frustration, you know the difference between right and wrong.  Sometimes, it's hard to have that realization, and I have come to understand it is easy enough to cross that line even though I never did.

I believe that each and every one of us is just a step or two removed from committing an act like the shooter in Arizona (I refuse to name him and give him publicity).  Darkness can cloud our paths.  Anger can rise up.  Frustration can mess up our judgement.

Do you want blame?  Blame who we are as people.  We are not totally good.  There is darkness in all of us.

As a Lutheran Christian, one of my strongly held beliefs is that at the same time an person is both saint and sinner.  At the same time, any person is capable of doing great good but also great evil.  At the same time a person is capable of committing sin and committing charity.  No one has the moral high road.  It is a condition we live in each and every day.

This is why, I believe, Jesus made that comment regarding worrying less about the speck in your neighbor's eye and instead focusing on the log in your own eye. 

When the garbage of life happens, it's awful tempting to blame, but perhaps blaming is not the answer.  Perhaps it's more of a matter of recognizing who we are as people and what type of world we live in.  It's not perfect.  It never will be.  We will never be able to stop senseless shootings or disasters natural or man made.  We perhaps could protect ourselves completely from such events, but that would require us moving into a concrete, padded bunker to somehow shut out the world around us.

Would you want to live like that?

I wouldn't.

And I won't.

1 comment:

Valerie E said...

I couldn't have said it better myself.