Sunday, January 9, 2011

On Metaphors and Anger - Tucson, Jan 8th

This will be just one whisper in the roar of voices concerning yesterday’s events in Tucson. I usually avoid political discussions because I call friends those whose beliefs lie on the right and the left. But this isn’t a political discussion, really, is it? It’s a discussion of what we plan to do now.

Yesterday, when six people died and numerous others were injured, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, I watched the country light up in fury. When that eased, the voices of reason began to emerge, those who would remind us that whether the 22-year-old shooter was acting from a political agenda or mental illness (or both), the time has come for us to look at who we are. Of course it matters why Jared Lee Loughner shot. Analyzing his actions will not reverse yesterday’s events, but we crave answers. More importantly, however, is where we go from here. What we choose. Will we continue down the path of decisive, polarizing hatred, or will we decide that enough is enough? Will we decide that the only way this country should be run is by engaging in discussion that allows us to express our needs but requires us to acknowledge the needs of others? Will we decide there is NO place in our conversation for metaphors of death? That incorporating anything that hints at handling our differences with bloodshed is wrong?

I would ask any of you reading this to move your attention away from Giffords and the political firestorm of the events. Look instead at the youngest victim—9-year-old Christina Green. You want a metaphor? There she is. Born on September 11, 2001, she symbolized all the hope of our future. I could get all poetic and talk about her precious light being extinguished, but let’s call it what it was. She was murdered in cold blood. She was shot in the chest and everything she could be, would be, ended. THAT is what we should be furious about, folks.

Please. Let’s become who we are meant to be. The United States has its problems. Some of those problems seem insurmountable, but when I think about Christina Taylor Green, I cannot accept that we will just continue to dissolve into a pool of acidic hatred. Be angry, yes. There’s much to be angry about. But be angry in a way that will be productive, not destructive.

My words are too gentle. What my anger moves me to do is grab each of you—whichever ‘side’ you favor, left or right—by the collar and shout in your face “This must stop!” Pain calls for action, and the easiest action is often to strike back. Then I look at a picture of Christina Green and think about how her birth on the saddest day of our generation should have been a symbol of hope for the future. On the day she was born our country was attacked from outside. On the day she died, the attack came from within. Is that metaphorical enough for everyone?