SHOCK AND NOT SURPRISED
Is it a contradiction in terms to say that I was shocked at the horrible murders and attempted assassination in Tucson last Saturday and yet not surprised? The “not surprised” part comes from fifty years of listening to people telling true stories of their experiences with the slippery slope of hostility. I have spent my share of time there myself. Charlie Wonders if that which he sees in individuals and families applies to a nation. It all starts innocently and properly enough when we become aware of something that is obviously going wrong. Such awareness may lead us to pray the serenity prayer: “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” So far so good--if we let it happen. If we can't do something constructive and can't let it go, our prayers can turn into complaints. We start the blame game, pinning negative labels on our newly created “enemies.” We confuse facts with opinions and viewpoints. Our rhetoric gets reckless. To get attention (and hopefully pick up some allies) we increase the volume at first by raising our voice a bit and eventually, if not stopped, it becomes yelling and screaming, outrage We find cheerleaders to stir us and give us moral (?) support. We easily buy what they sell as the “truth.” We are no longer interested in simple and verifiable facts. When the imagined threat takes a human face and form its only a step from there to aggression and physical violence. Even if you or I would never go this far, someone else may pick up the weapon and finish what we started. Then we can feel shock, superior. The popular definition of insanity (to keep doing the things we have been doing and expect a different result) perhaps explains the surprise. I, for one, have some soul searching to do.