“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world”. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, poet and leader of the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century
This past weekend the people of Tucson, Arizona suffered a horrible tragedy. As of this writing, six people have been killed at the hands of a mentally disturbed young man in his attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Right now, she too is fighting for her life from a gunshot wound to the head. I really don’t have the words to describe the sense of sadness and hopelessness I felt as I watched the news. I also felt something else: fear.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It can make you do or say things that are foolish. The blood was barely dry on the pavement of the Safeway store parking lot when some politicians, without investigation, and despite evidence to the contrary, began taking advantage of the grief of others in order to vilify political opponents. I am sickened to see these “leaders” showing more outrage towards their political opposition than the shooter himself. My goodness, how irresponsible, tasteless and heartless can they be? Are they not just participating in deepening the divide they claim to abhor? How does this behavior benefit or bring justice and comfort to the victims?
How we react to fear can make or break who we are as a nation. I believe that America has always been the stalwart bastion of bravery to the world. Fear can grip us, but it does not overtake us. We stand together as one, unified not by political mindset, but by natural freedom. How we bring comfort to the people of Arizona while they grieve their loss will reveal to all who we are as a nation. Both sides of the political aisle have engaged in their fair share of vicious political rhetoric in the past decade. So, let’s stop the hypocritical moral outrage and place the blame on whom it really belongs: the shooter.
While those who seek power will continue to try to use this crisis to further an agenda, silence dissent, or restrict freedom, ordinary Americans will go about the business of binding up each other’s wounds, praying for the grieving, and healing the brokenhearted. While one evil, deranged gunman may have taken six lives, we should remember that it was the bravery of ordinary Americans that put an end to his rampage. This is who we are dear readers; hold onto that which truly makes us great. We know each other better than our own politicians do, and for that reason we should have more reason to hope that to fear.
Americans should not be afraid to speak out, nor should we be afraid to serve our country in whatever capacity our God-given talents allow. Every generation will have those psychopaths that try to accomplish their evil agenda via fear, intimidation and death. And, every generation will have those politicians that will come along to try to take advantage of the situation. While there will always be differing viewpoints on how our government should be run, right now is not the time to discuss it. We need to grieve together as a nation and comfort the families of the slain and wounded. We need to cling to each other in solidarity, instead of dividing each other with fear.
What we do in response to a crisis not only will define who we are, it will reveal the true character of those who would seek to lead us. Be strong and courageous my fellow Americans. Remember what we are made of and press on.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945