Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pointing Fingers

Along with the rest of the country, I've been following the Tucson shootings that happened on Saturday in Arizona during a meet and greet with Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, who was shot in the brain, has remained in intensive care, while others, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, lost their lives. As the tragedy has continued to unfold throughout the week, everyone has been wondering what could possibly make someone kill six people and wound 19 others.

Throughout the week, the tragedy has developed in the media from a tragic act to a political finger-pointing of who-did-what. A lot has been made of Sarah Palin's crosshairs map and her negative rhetoric. If you haven't seen the map yet, it depicts crosshairs, or what appears to be a gun targets, placed on the districts of 20 U.S. representatives who voted for healthcare reform. Rep. Giffords is one of the "targets" on the list.

When the list originally was posted on Palin's Facebook page and websites, Rep. Giffords was quoted in an MSNBC interview saying that the map was dangerous because of its ambiguous and potentially violent message:

"I think it's important for all leaders, not just leaders of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party ... community leaders, figures in our community to say, 'Look, we can't stand for this.' I mean, this is a situation where people really need to realize that the rhetoric, and firing people up, and even things ... For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that actions."

I don't mean to pick on Palin specifically. I only use her as an example of my greater point because she is the most publicized illustration of my feelings toward the issue. (In fact, investigators say the Jared Lee Loughner had no political affiliation, and was not motivated by politicians to shoot Rep. Giffords. Rather, he suffered from severe mental illness.)

I chose this example to demonstrate that the high levels of negativity between the left and right in our government have not produced a single result. The bickering and finger pointing have only led to arguments and immaturity, not change. Since the election of 2008, our country has reached a low point, not only with politicians but with citizens as well, in how we compose ourselves.

The United States is facing a difficult time, with the worst economy since the Great Depression and incredibly high unemployment rates. We are involved in two wars that cannot be won, and witness constant new threats of terrorism. We need our leadership — of both parties — to lead, and show by example that this current state is only temporary.

I remember watching the 2008 election, and most recently the 2010 elections, and thinking how depressing it was to witness. There was name calling, and finger-pointing. I was happy that last year I hadn't switched my voter registration yet because I didn't feel inclined to vote for any of these people. I felt embarrassed by the way our "leaders" were conducting themselves, and I wondered what the rest of the world thought us as Americans.

Nothing is going to change until both sides take responsibility for their short-comings, their mistakes, and most importantly, their constant negativity. By spreading messages of hate and violence, we are only going to experience hate and violence. Politicians are supposed to be the voice of the people, but I don't think any of them represent my voice. However, there are certainly people out there who will interpret the voices of hate to be theirs. This honestly frightens me.

I like to believe that with every tragedy there is some light that shines through. Although I haven't seen it yet, I really hope that the shooting in Tucson brings a call to action to stop using such negative energy to invoke reactions and party loyalty. Nothing is accomplished this way. The United States needs to show that this isn't the country we have been in the past, and this isn't the country we will be in the future.

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