My weekend started out as it usually does, with the weekly grocery shopping. I usually enjoy these excursions, as my husband is a funny guy and generally something amusing happens. I was not disappointed yesterday.
At some point during the outing, I checked in on Twitter. In Tucson, AZ, Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford was shot, along with 20 other people. 9 of the other people died, including a 9-year-old girl.
My pleasant Saturday shopping excursion had been turned on its ear in the blink of an eye.
Aside from checking in on CNN when we arrived home yesterday afternoon, I have not watched anything on TV about this incident. After watching the trending on Twitter for the rest of the day yesterday, and a bit this morning, I have largely stayed off. And aside from posting some pictures of the snow in North Dallas this morning out on Facebook, I have not spent much time there today.
My thoughts are these.
If you are fed up with the divisiveness of the politics in our country, do not be divisive.
This is not always easy. I know this because I am, by nature, a confrontational individual. I enjoy a good debate, and I often take a devil’s advocate position to keep the confrontation going. Confrontation in the interest of bringing opposing points-of-view together for comparison can be a good thing. We resolve issues by discussing them. And in this country, at this time, we have a lot of serious issues that need good discussion.
However, although what one hopes to get out of discussion is dialogue, what often happens is division. People are so emotionally invested in their own point-of-view that they simply can’t stand listening to someone else’s. Sometimes they can’t even admit that there actually is another point-of-view. Civility breaks down and before you know it, you’ve got a fight going.
When a discussion degenerates into a fight, no one listens to a thing. And no issue will be resolved.
One thing that will happen in the aftermath of the shootings in Tucson is a debate about gun-control. It has already started. This is an issue with deep emotional roots. It will get ugly. This is not a good time to be having a discussion about such an emotionally charged issue.
Another thing that will happen is discussion and debate on the divisiveness in American politics. This may get ugly too. It is also an emotionally charged arena. If the discussion can remain civilized, it’s one we need to have. Otherwise, this subject may also need to remain off-limits until we can all cool down.
So, how do we find balance in a world where such violence occurs on an all too regular basis?
I believe there are two things we can do right now that will promote balance. The first is to make a choice to stay out of the fray and reflect. The world does not need my two cents on these issues. I advise avoiding the urge to join in the battles to come, at least until after a time of reflection – especially if you are passionate about your point of view.
I intend to reflect on the lives that are gone, and the lives that will be forever changed by this incident, especially on the life and loss of Christina Green, the 9-year-old girl among the dead in yesterday’s event. This was a young life already well-lived, with the hope of tremendous promise. And now it is gone, in an instant.
The second thing we can do is practice extreme gratitude. Be grateful for the people in your life. Hug them every chance you get, especially the children in your life. Tell them “I love you” and “I appreciate you” and keep on telling them. These are small actions but they are tremendous forces for good.
I believe if we used these words and took these actions more often, we would read far fewer of the headlines we were confronted with this morning.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi