Tucson: Getting to the Root of It

Have answers been found that fully explain the causes & motivations behind the shattering, life-changing attack on Congresswoman Giffords? My exposure to the coverage of the aftermath of the shooting has been hindered due to malfunctioning technology. I haven’t been able to remain current on conclusions drawn, nor, going forward, preventive actions that America should undertake as a result of these conclusions.

My first & immediate reaction that day, was – this is a result of our political divide. Now, I doubt that it is that simple. Political divide has to be included in causality, though, I think. But a big question has become, how much does this divide, translating into rhetoric, claim responsibility for Jared Loughner’s actions? Some have dismissed this possibility out-of-hand. I disagree with those persons. Words have power. They can calm, or they can incite, inflame. You can add fuel to the fire, or you can douse it. Get real.

However, while I am focusing on the rhetorical impact of individuals/blogs/media on the American public, as ‘We, the People…’ Reverend Al Sharpton caught my attention with a slightly different perspective: “I think before we dismiss the political discourse debate, the problem is that when we get to how we execute, it’s going to take leadership.”
“And if the leadership of the country is so acrimonious and so busy with a poisonous debate themselves, we will never be able to get to dealing with those that are mentally ill or those that are isolated. Because the problem is that the leadership is so busy taking shots at each other.”

David Gregory, host of MSNBC’s ‘Meet the Press’, responded to the Reverend’s statement with this question: “…is this a game changer of sorts for our political attitudes as we move toward a major presidential election year?” Political attitudes. Don’t political attitudes essentially represent personal attitudes? Our beliefs? But what if, in some cases, our beliefs are wrong? What if, in fact, they are not so much belief as motive? I’m telling you, motives are tricky and can be hidden, even from the one with the motive. Deception plays a part here…

“…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)

I’m going to extrapolate a bit and say that, where deception operates, there is sin. Last I heard, sin is not a good thing. It’s not helping. It brings with it a hardening of the heart and conscience. Makes it easy, or easier , to pull a trigger.

Any and all of us have sinned, and probably will again. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) Being accused of being sinful does not need to enrage, frighten or offend you, because we have a Saviour. He has provided the Way, the Remedy. In fact, He is the Remedy. You and I need to learn of Him, or learn more. As do the Jared Loughner’s of the world. And I’m not saying that knowing Christ will tamp down your passions so much that you won’t still pull that trigger…but what I do believe is that only His love can truly & finally save us, from so many eventualities & possibilities. Pulling a trigger may be one of them.

To my almost astonishment, David Brooks, columnist for the Wall Street Journal’, brought up the subject of sin during the above discussion. Knock me over with a feather. “…we’ve had a culture which has downplayed sin, and therefore people think, “I–my way’s the right way, and 100 percent of what I want, that’s what we should have… And, and so that’s a–kind of a deep problem to get over.”

Again…Jesus. Way, Truth, and Life…He can get into your problem. He works from the inside out. We can try to change our behavior. It may seem that we’ve succeeded. For myself, enough pressure on me will prove that wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to adjust your behavior, go to therapy, use a Nicotine Patch or whatever. They are all good starts, I guess…you have to start somewhere, and faith without works is dead. But don’t go it alone. Jesus is here for us. He’s the One with the power, and the Love that uses that power without selfishness.

I don’t mean to imply that faith in Jesus Christ is where it all stops. We need help, from every direction. For me, my faith is central & pivotal, and it IS my first line of defense. But if I’m hungry, thinking about my faith in God won’t put the food on my table. I have to get up and make a sandwich, put together an omelet, get that coffee perking…If I see a shady character ahead, my thoughts shoot to Jesus but still, I’ll duck out of sight, change my direction…so, too, if certain actions had been taken earlier in the life of the Tucson shooter, if his predilections had been not only noticed but some kind of intervention had taken place…today I might not be writing this particular article.

But since events have transpired in such a way as they have, we must not waste this tragedy. We really must not waste this tragedy. Maybe more of us…many more, perhaps…need to examine our motives & change our focus. Maybe we need to re-evaluate. Let’s tone it down, watch our language. Think about our words, and perhaps the reason we’re even speaking in the first place.


3 responses to “Tucson: Getting to the Root of It

  1. Good post, but I have to disagree with you on a few points:First, Jared Loughner was not motivated by politics. He is mentally ill. His best friend, a guy named Zach Osler, said during an interview that Jared Loughner, "did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn't listen to political radio. He didn't take sides. He wasn't on the left. He wasn't on the right."Second, words do have power, but I think we are walking down a very slippery slope if we say that today's current political debate had anything to do with this attack. I wrote on my site that saying political debate had anything to do with this almost excuses his behavior. I have followed your blog for a while and I don't think that is what you mean. But, if we start to say that this guy did this because of something he read in the paper or heard on the radio (in spite of what his friend said) then to some degree we are almost saying this wasn't the shooters fault.Finally, I do believe in Jesus, and I know we don't talk about sin enough in today's world. We also don't talk about real evil enough either. I personally believe this shooter was insane and evil. It takes something fundamentally wrong with your mind and your soul to walk up to a group of total strangers and shoot into that group. This person killed six people and wounded 13 others. Our nature is to look for a reason. I argue the reason is no further than the shooter himself.

  2. Andy, you filled in the gap…I did not look into the shooter himself when I wrote this post, because my computer was not working, had to use an old one with almost no memory. Took forever, so I skipped researching Loughner for myself. I did realize that other factors might very well come into play."…saying political debate had anything to do with this almost excuses his behavior." That viewpoint never even occurred to me. I haven't heard or read this opinion expressed before now…have to think a bit to wrap my head around it. I doubt that anyone who does not hate America would excuse Loughner on grounds of inflamed rhetoric. Insanity, maybe…I think his lawyer is going for that plea.As far as politics,though, didn't Loughner have some kind of file or folder with information on Gabrielle Giffords in it? I think mention has been made of a previous incident involving a Giffords rally/meeting…I've got my computer back, so I do need to follow up on background. He may've been fixated on her for other reasons.

  3. I've had some time & the means to readup on Jared Lougnher. It does seems mental imbalances/distortions etc. tilt the scales here, as far as causes behind these violent actions. But I don't think it can be definitively concluded that media/political discourse did not aggravate an already agitated or disturbed state in this young man. Even if a person doesn't follow political news per se, it can still filter through. The guy used the Internet, did a lot of YouTube stuff. One hears things, people talk.Loughner did attend at least one Giffords rally, in 2007. He reportedly wasn't satisfied with her answer to a question he asked regarding government. (I personally think other issues may've been at play here as well, ego or women issues.) President Bush provoked hostility in Loughner, and I don't want to repeat here the wording he used to express his opinion of our government. Mentions 'political business information' in a Dec.2010 video, government mind control, brainwash in another. Posted on 'Above Top Secret'. So while Loughner may not have had any party affiliations etc., he did have opinions & reactions regarding our gov.t., currency, wars etc.According to friends, Jared had no 'religion', and between that lack of an anchor for his soul, and the conscious dreaming he engaged in…well, he was not anchored in reality.This sums it up for me: "…Loughner was more probably a mentally deranged left winger than a mentally deranged right winger. In either event, the derangement, not his political orientation, is the proximate and ultimate cause of his mass murders." Volokh ConspiracyMother Jones

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