One of the headlines of Saturday's Christian Science Monitor read "Why are Americans so Angry?" That is a common enough thread though occasionally the shock and blame levels get to code orange when tragedies such as the deadly shooting while a lawmaker is the midst of meeting with constituents outside of a supermarket.
The shock antennae are up. President Obama and other important figures are horrified, saying this kind of violence has no place in a free nation like America. Yet, I am asking why we are in effect ignoring the widespread nature of the acts and attitudes of violence throughout our human climate in general?
For instance we in effect ignore our general addiction to both violence and humiliation in our choices of television and film. We ignore our own participation as we allow the closing of the very schools that are the lifeline of our children, and in the foreign policies (and lies within that) which, for me, all have no place in a democracy or anything close.
The bigger question is why the violence is so rampant, not only in our streets, but against almost anyone of different political persuasion so much so that we are persuaded by fear into various belief systems rather. Why are we not willing to share information and or learn other than hatred from each other?
The more there is nonstop coverage only of one disaster at a time, the more the juices of suspense and sorrow flow only to the present source, and the more adrenalin moves in the direction of blame as well.
As so many services and jobs were cut and so many policies have gone unquestioned, we have been handing over to our children a culture of worry and dread. Frankly this is an act of violence against them and their right to the freedom to dream of lives of their own creation. The question should be more one of, can we begin to admit that by commission or omission that we are all part of a culture of violence in which politics has become more of a brutal team sport than we claim? Is this the right way to do anything at all?
We are a nation rapidly losing our "why," even our capacity or desire to use it and ask the questions instead of pointing the fingers. Please -- Liberals and Conservatives -- we are steeped in self-righteousness. The Liberals, too, have felt so superior to the less concerned "others" while remaining naive and repetitive and judgmental. We are supposed to invent solutions, not jab each other in the heart so our children inherit and ingest the violence we are giving them as if it was cereal.
This is not intended by any means as to minimize of the Tuscon tragedy or any other day's human horror. Rather, it is to add that we are not born editors who get to decide that one human tragedy outweighs another according to our mood or political opportunism. We are having trouble with selective attention, and are in danger of not seeing the trends in how we enact, perceive and ignore certain acts of violence while our focus is fixated on others.
Perhaps now that I, too, am beginning to question my own assumption of Liberal righteousness, I dare more easily to suggest that we all start to do the same. One way of looking at our inherent equality with dignity is to acknowledge that we have all been subjected to media and political influences of those who might gain by keeping us so polarized. But, if we want to understand why the violence -- why any violence - then we need collaboration. If we treat this as just another wrestling match, we all lose.
At the very least, let's start the ball rolling by inviting people to speak from the heart, with feeling and without the forces of fire. We've all heard about fighting fire with fire, it just fuels the negative.
We're overdosing, we need a break, let's meet and please, let's talk like Americans who have something in common.