For me the entire Tragedy in Tucson was almost surreal. Our attempts to show our out of town guests some of the things we love about living here were punctuated with reports of the mayhem and mistaken information about the death of a young and vibrant Congresswoman.
I learned, minutes after it happened (while talking on the phone and simultaneously looking at Facebook), that Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and over a dozen others had been shot. This was just a couple of days after the Chandler mall incident wherein a paroled convict went a little goofy and caused a major lock down and freaked out a bunch of people at the Baja Fresh. That was just a few days after one of our state legislators, Frank Pratt, was beaten and tied up in his very own place of business by another recent parolee.
These were all news making events. Each was in a different county. Two involved politicians. Two involved parolees. Two involved guns. The news each case was completely different.
No mention of political motivations in the Pratt case, barely any mention of the suspects parole status. No sheriff grandstanding (which is interesting given it happened in Pinal County where the sheriff has been quite visible on immigration issues).
Apparently in the mall case a covert investigation into the whereabouts of yet another wanted parolee sparked that mishap. No vilification of the system on that one.
But only seconds after the Tucson shooting, and in the same Facebook message where I first learned of it, the political vitriol started flying. And it spread like a virus, infecting everyone who came in contact with it. Perhaps status as a federal office holder is just that much higher profile than a state office holder, but the political tone is really not that much different at either level, so it is curious there was no political presumption firing an outcry in the Pratt case.
The fact is, all three of these incidents were crimes committed by troubled individuals. Period.
In this age of community living we seem to be more interested in figuring out the often unanswerable question of why these things happen instead of just dealing with the fact that they did happen. It seems like everything these days in the gray area; there simply is no black and white, no good and evil (except in movies based upon comic books), no simple explanations.
This is not healthy. As we have seem from the ensuing political debate this week, when you focus on these gray areas then nothing is clear, no one is safe and everyone is at fault. In my view this is a symptom of our growing cultural indifference to personal responsibility.
Maybe the most emblematic aspect of this theory was the crowd reaction during the Memorial Service, which featured one of the best speeches President Obama has ever given and the humble reaction of Daniel Hernandez who rightly pointed out that being is hero is a terrific burden. Made up of mostly college students, the collective response was inappropriate for the setting. Several people later justified it by saying that is what those people needed, to celebrate and move forward.
What it really showed is that our kids think it is all about them. We have failed to teach them civility (and civics but that is a topic for another blog), humility and critical thinking. It is all about the moment, all about me and tomorrow we can move on to the next thing. You can see this theme in just about every reaction to the Tucson events except for those of the President and Mr. Hernandez as noted.
Our way of life is changing. The technological revolution is at the root of these changes. Either we can accept the heightened level of responsibility that comes with the wonders that it offers and access all that is positive about it and truly have a wonderful life or we can continue to generalize, distort and misuse our resources in the name of self satisfaction. The choice is ours and so far I don’t see very many people rising to role model these behaviors. Ironically, hypocrisy reigns as people race to condemn others for the very sin they are committing in the act of their condemnation. Sadly,I think those people are doomed to a life of gray.