Words, Still Mattering

My stomach turns to read about the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice outside of DC this morning.

WaPo reports that the shooter had a problem with the current GOP administration. Certainly this story is still developing, but I don’t think this was a random thing.

Let’s be clear. I have a problem with the current GOP administration too. That doesn’t mean I want them dead or injured, it means I disagree with them and want them all voted out of office.

To make our voices stand out we get overwrought, couching our language in grandiose terms like “traitors” and “dangerous.” Some people will hear those words and believe that there is a drastic response needed. You might try to wash your hands of responsibility there, but I won’t let you. You choose your words to make an impact, you can’t control what that impact will be.

From 2008-2016, we saw Tea Party protesters carrying signs about the tree of liberty being being watered by the blood of patriots. I’ve heard more than one demagogue say that liberalism is a mental disorder and liberals are defective. I really feared that Obama would be assassinated.

Now that the GOP is in charge, the same dangerous rhetoric has fired back up. Liberals don’t have the same existing network of mouthpieces via cable news and talk radio, but it seems like the democratizing force of the internet is well-functioning here. It’s easy to share memes or say outrageous things on social media. You can’t control how they impact others.

We have got to take it down a notch.

Like 50 notches, really.

Stop lumping people together as “repugnicans” and “libs.”

For the love of all things holy, stop believing that a person who disagrees with you is your enemy.

What’s ruining this country is not Trump or Obama or Pelosi or even that big jerk Paul Ryan. It’s us – you and me – who blur boundaries. We think that if we find out one little fact about a person, like their voting record, that we can attribute all kinds of other convenient and neatly predetermined traits to them as well.

Guess what? We really aren’t that smart. We certainly aren’t immune from flawed patterns of thinking.

So let’s stop taking the easy way out. This isn’t a western. There aren’t white hats and black hats. We need to behave responsibly.

Just take a freaking breath, stop screaming about tyranny, and focus all that energy on looking out for each other instead.