It’s been 24 hours since the news app on my iPod alerted me to the shooting rampage in Arizona yesterday, and I can’t say that the churning in my stomach has settled down much.
I’m not sure how I feel about the death of a nine-year-old girl, recently elected to her student council, who aspired to learn more about politics by going with a neighbor to meet Gabby Giffords at the local supermarket. I’m not sure what I feel about the assassination of a federal judge whose decision on the bench, born of his attempt to interpret the law—which is, the last time I checked, the responsibility of a judge at any level—necessitated 24 hour protection several months ago because of a talk show host’s incitement of the public to make threats on his life. I’m not sure how I feel about the death of a 76-year-old man who martyred himself to protect his wife from a madman, at a place where they had gone to exercise their democratic right to assemble.
But I’m very sure how I feel about what made this all possible. I’m disgusted.
I’m disgusted with Sarah Palin and her “PAC advisors” for the evocation of the idea of crosshairs in a political campaign. I’m disgusted by the fact that the first reaction of most commentators immediately after the shooting rampage was to wonder if protection should be increased for congressional members, when it should have been, “What did we do, what did we say in service of political theater, that might have informed the delusion of a 22-year-old schizophrenic?” I’m disgusted that not one of the popular talk show hosts who pump their ratings with vitriol (that they often do not genuinely feel) has to my knowledge even ventured forth to take any responsibility for the impact of what they say on the general public, which unfortunately includes the “Unabombers” and the Eric Rudolphs and the Timothy McVeighs.
And I’m disgusted with myself.
I’m disgusted that the first thing I said when I saw the news alert was, “Is Gabby Giffords a Democrat or a Republican?” Why did it matter? A 40-year-old woman had been shot in plain daylight at a supermarket. Wasn’t that enough to be mortified by?
I’m disgusted that I didn’t say, when Tea Party acquaintances of mine spoke of our being oppressed and the need to “take back America” from our socialist oppressors that I was offended by the narcissism of it. Oppressed? Get a grip! While we sit in our heavily-mortgaged homes, bemoaning the fact that this year, we couldn’t buy a Wii for our children or a Lexus SUV (nobody wants a smaller Christmas present…), you think we’re oppressed?
I’m disgusted that I didn’t say, when a fellow Christian told me that I couldn’t be a Christian and vote the way I’d planned, that she should mind her own spirituality. Despite the misguided opinion of some of my friends and neighbors, democracy and Christianity are not, alas, synonymous, and quite often are at odds with each other.
Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself, said Jesus. Love your enemies. I figure we’d best figure out just who those enemies and neighbors really are. I know that today, for me, they’re one and the same. As Pogo said 40 years ago, we have met the enemy and it is us.
God bless the families of Christina Taylor Greene, born September 11, 2001; Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorwin (Dory) Stoddard, 76; Dorothy Morris, 76; Phyllis Scheck, 79; and John Roll, 63. God bless those who watched as 20 of their neighbors were shot in front of them. God bless the state of Arizona and its leaders. God bless America and the Congress. And God bless us, every one.