According to "A Course in Miracles," all minds are joined. While it appears to the physical eye that I am here and you are over there, on the level of mind there is no place where you stop and I start. We are all affected by everyone else's thoughts, just as a butterfly flapping its wings near the South Pole affects the wind currents at the North Pole. When any wave moves, the entire ocean shifts.
So it's basically irrelevant whether Jared Loughner specifically related to the hate speech around him in some linear, causal way. Thoughts can go viral, as we have seen throughout history when group pathologies overcame the better angels of a people (Hitler's Germany was an example). And as it is written in The Course, "all thought creates form on some level." If enough hate-thought and hate-speech is present, it's almost inevitable that some hate-filled manifestation will emerge somewhere within that field of consciousness. Jared Loughner was swimming in the thought-forms and images of hate, as almost all of us are these days. And to an obviously deranged mind, violent thought forms are like gasoline to an already smoldering fire.
I heard a not-yet-declared 2012 Presidential candidate on television, refusing to condemn the use of gun imagery in political dialogue. "After all," he said, "we have free speech." Darn right, Sir. And something else we should have is a dose of healthy shame. Maybe it shouldn't be illegal to talk about one's political opponents as though they're enemy combatants. But it should be unthinkable.
Hopefully after the events in Tucson, things will quiet down and our political dialogue will become more civilized and respectful. One can only hope. We had two days of a sober, silent and tender collective heartbeat, and even in its sadness it was inspiring. The Tucson memorial had some stunning moments. As it was after 9/11, Americans got quiet for a moment of group sanity....we felt the authenticity of our humanness...we actually remembered we were a nation. But it didn't last then, and we will see whether it lasts now.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, it is often said that "every problem comes bearing its own solution." Tragedy takes us to the very state of consciousness which, were we to hold to it, would go far toward preventing further tragedies. Whether pundits, politicians and media personalities choose to use this tragedy to grow spiritually, to increase their compassion, to commit more deeply to love, is under no one's control but their own. But each of us can decide for ourselves what we will personally do with this latest national tragedy. We can remember that just as hate thought and hate speech do indeed affect the entire world, so do loving thought and loving speech. The only thing greater than a forcefield of hate is a forcefield of love. And each and every one of us -- with the thoughts we think, the words we use and the things we do -- contribute, or fail to contribute, to the field of consciousness that will save us all.