There, I said it. It's true. However, with the past few weeks hoopla and game-playing around the Arizona massacre, I did an experiment with the headline. I wanted to see if this resulted in more readers than usual. The truth is, Sarah Palin might be hard to tolerate with her fear mongering, aw shucks persona -- but she is about as responsible for the massacre as the taxi cab driver who unfortunately drove Jared Loughner to the SAFEWAY store. A more interesting question to ask is why we Americans are so attracted to headlines like the one I just wrote? Could it be that all of us share in the blame of elected officials and media being out of control? Painful as it may be -- it's worth thinking about.
As I write this I am at 32,000 feet and on my way home from a visit with my 83-year-old mother who is struggling with her health. There is nothing like a trip to your last surviving parents home for reflection on where you are in life, in the country you live, and what legacy we leave our children. What legacy we will ALL leave for our children... And in America right now, it's not looking very promising.
This thought process is even more painful brought on by the tragedy and aftermath in Tucson, Arizona. So many senseless killings, a young man arguably left to deal with his own encroaching madness and a 9-year-old, vibrant young third grader, amongst victims whose lives were snuffed out by the many indiscriminate bullets.
No parent should ever have to live through and suffer the loss of a young child. The ripple effect of such devastation continues for a lifetime. The memorial speech given by President Obama was powerful and poignant -- the best of his presidency thus far -- words that so inspired me again -- cynical and disheartened as I am to begin to feel the stirrings of HOPE.
This series of events and the stirrings of hope has led me to a gnawing question. Our infrastructure is broken, are leaders are corrupt and this country is on the brink of a precipice so deep we may never FEEL and SEE the wonder and irridescence of the moon again from those depths. Yet all we continue to focus on are the surface issues, the Vitriol of our Countries discourse and WHO is to blame. There is real tragedy in Arizona, and tragedy in our political system and the way our politicians behave. These are separate discussions that do not belong in the SAME conversation.
The REAL question is how do each and every one of us create change in a country that so many seem to sacrifice for personal gain, ambition and wealth? How do we not give up as human beings when many of our neighbors are past despair.
Ah good question, and I have some ideas. Here are some of the things we need to do:
Change the discussion
We need to hold our politicians accountable and force them to work together. No blame should be punted back and forth across the aisles about who is at fault. This blame game actually keeps us from focusing on the ball. The ball in this article is used as a metaphor for the direction of our country. Instead of where is the ball going, the vitriol DIVERTS the discussion. We need CHANGE. Frankly if our elected officials cannot find a way to get along we Americans should IMPEACH them all.
If our leaders can't figure out the KEY issues in our country, we can help. But we should not tolerate our leaders and our news representatives behavior any longer. I wasn't kidding about my headline. None of this behavior would be tolerated by parents and our schools with our own children so why do we tolerate this from our leaders? Our role models? We can have a much needed discussion about our political discourse and the country's continued polarization but not as a cause of the tragedy. The issue may have come to a tipping point from the Arizona events, but it is a separate issue.
Get back to COMMON SENSE in our country
We need to understand as a country that if we want our borders to stay open then we pay for the burden it is costing our infrastructure. American's need to acknowledge that our open door policy enables some to profit from our policies and overburdens our welfare system. We should not blame illegal aliens for their desire for a better life but go after corporations that enable the illegal activity. A desire for a better life is at the center of how we define being American-It is part of our make-up as a country.
We need to understand that our countries infrastructure is so broken that corporations are actually legally gaining the right to control your personal DNA information and the seeds that come from our food supply. Wake up, Americans and acknowledge that our foster-care system is so damaged that instead of protecting children we send them into the flames crackling and burning alongside the common seems of us adults assigned to protect them.
Respectful discourse and the ability to agree to disagree
We need to look at all sides of an issue -- debate with respect and listen to each other. If we are so tired of Washington's discourse -- why hasn't it stopped? Because we all still listen and remain fascinated with the discourse. Frankly if you haven't realized it by now-Washington doesn't give a damn about what you think unless it translates into the loss of their cushy job. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
All of us need to understand as a country that we will never come together in full agreement on passionate issues such as abortion. These issues are not just two sided but have MANY facets that need to be explore and understood. For example the abortion debate must include the right of a person who decides to terminate a pregnancy, whether the parents can provide for and develop a child into a healthy contributing adult. The health of the mother must be considered, and INCLUDE discussions on our abandoned and existing children, on our medical system and it's lack of support and coverage for prenatal mothers and the family structure that we are bringing a child into. There are so many elements that are never part of the discussion that affect the mental, physical and emotional well-being of ANY child brought into this world.
Saying no to BAD television
What you watch and read makes a difference in what STAYS on the air.
More people have watched American Idol than voted in the last presidential election. How can we create change when people don't exercise their voting rights? When we care more about who will be cut from an entertainment show versus how many of our neighbors are going hungry, we need to being to look at who we are.
Create REAL discussions
As individuals and communities we must create forums that look at in depth key issues that need to be addressed. The issues need to be looked at from ALL sides-debated, and decided. We need to debate without the rancor and vitriol happens in politics and on Television. Again, we must share some blame. Studies show that negative campaigning works. We are part of that problem- let's start being part of the solution. Turn off the negative ads, turn off irresponsible journalists and if u can't find any unbiased, informational reporting turn off the TV altogether.
Finish the job
The Katrina disaster still lingers and limps along, a year after Haiti-we can' even find a way to clear the debris to start using the money that was donated -- No WONDER WE HAVE ISSUE FATIGUE...we never solve the problems! Health care, gun control, the deficit -- all of these issues have been at the forefront of our American discussion for YEARS. I would suggest that we do not suffer from issue fatigue, we have elected official that lack the courage and commitment to solve the problems. If a plumber comes to fix a leak in your kitchen sink and after he leaves you discover the sink is still broke, what do you do? He or she either comes back to fix it or you find someone else. You never settle for the faucet to leak indefinitely.
Perhaps it's time we create a political party that reshape our country. Maybe we create a rotating system where the average citizen goes to Washington delivering common sense back to the discussion. Perhaps we amend the constitution so that Congress is not allowed any benefits the rest of us don't have.
So, what will you do to help your country? What can each of us do create a better dialogue and solve issues? It's time.
When our president choked in grief on the podium at the Arizona memorial, when he thought of the little girl whose hopes and dreams were smashed by one mans' madness, I choked too. All of us have to reach back in time and find that little Christina in each of us...with that irreverent hope glistening and with dreams of greatness for ourselves and our country. We need to find the courage and the fortitude to do our part to get our country back on track. It's up to you.
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