It’s been a short period of time, and many blogs, posts, and news articles have been already written about the implications of the Tucson event. Some have blamed the political right, others the left, and yet others have blamed the system in overlooking a mentally ill human being when all the signs pointed to the obvious. Analysis of the reasons for the shooting are still to come and will continue to be discussed for months, even years to come, but this is not my concern at this time.
Yet to me, the shooting was a wake up call, an appeal to the senses, that political rhetoric by reasonable people can be taken to the extremes by the unreasonable. Can we, for example, disagree on an issue without demonizing the opposition? Can we discuss an issue without insults spewing or anger bubbling, subtle or not? Reasonable people can disagree without sarcasm, mockery, or condescension. Reasonable people can see two sides of the same coin without downgrading a discussion to name calling, intelligence attacking, or (dare I write it?) racial tension.
The unreasonable, even the mentally ill take this sort of rhetoric and take it that much further. A doubting of the opposition’s heart and intent has existed, and those that like to cling to these sort of things keep the endless cycle of hatred going. I think that we are all tired of Democrats or Republicans being called “evil” or even “unpatriotic.” We are also tired of pandering for the camera and “sound bite moments.” Name names all you want, but this sort of rhetoric is found on both sides of the aisle.
That said, what can we learn from the tragedy? We can disagree by discussing the issues at stake. We can oppose proposals not by demonizing, but by respectfully offering a reasonable and principled alternative. No one benefits when the opposition is made out to be less than human or sarcasm takes over. Well meaning people can and must let the arguments speak for themselves.
For example, I will continue to support the rights for the unborn. There is no argument in my mind and heart that could ever justify murder. Yet it is not constructive to use name calling or sarcasm to advance my cause. I would rather appeal to the courts and laws to change this practice. I will turn to Scripture, reason, and basic principles, and continue to pray for the end of abortion and the promotion of adoption. I will preach from the pulpit without apology that this is the correct position to take. I know- maybe it’s not exciting, even a bit boring to some, but this course of dialogue is the only course to take.
We have a country that is losing the war on drugs, experiencing the disintegration of families, and falling deeper and deeper into debt. We have major policy issues at stake in the areas of the economy, deficit spending, and the military. Our cities are facing bankruptcy, factories sitting empty, and the plight of the elderly and the poor being ignored. These are not easy problems, yet I believe that we can come closer to overcoming these obstacles by coming together as a nation of one. May we learn from unreason and promote reason in public discourse.