Let's Separate the Grief from the Blame
- Blog Post by: Laura Waterman Wittstock
- January 12, 2011 - 5:08 PM
We unfortunately have the village response and that is to look for cause or blame when calamity, sickness and death occur. Free hunters in our past stopped to grieve but then moved on while those in settlements wanted answers. They had enemies to contend with and as settled groups, they were targets. Unfortunate too, along the way, we have invented religions that seem to give "reasons" for why things happen. Either a benevolent god picks one out to be saved by some miracle or a silent god lets others die, sometimes violently.
The shootings that resulted in injury and death in Arizona compel every one of us to take stock - not just to what happened there but to what might be happening in our own lives. In a strange way, the violent deaths of others causes many to appreciate life all the more. We can link ourselves easily to the young child mercilessly gunned down but also to the adults, particularly those who died while saving others. This is the heroism of which we hope we all are capable when the time comes. It is one of the binders of our society that has us believe the many are of greater good than the one. That idea transcends religiosity and seems to spring from older ideas of survival in a threatening world.
We as a nation make our own threats these days. We have gone to war on a gigantic scale against people the ordinary American has never met nor visited in far away countries where the war is waging. We don't see on our nightly television programs how innocent people who are not armed combatants are being gunned down. Women and small children as well as men young and old are killed because they are in the way, they are perceived to be the enemy, or they represent something reprehensible. Our side does not kill all these people, although we have done enough of that. No, the other side(s), do the killing, but they are armed with weapons bought from Isreal, China, Russia, France, and possibly topping the list: the United States.
We build our own personal bunkers in which we evaluate life from the top, starting with our own family members, then people we know, then public figures, particularly religious figures, then Americans, then the rest of the world. We are skewed to a north-south view, with north generally being good and south generally being less good. Yet is not any death equally valuable somewhere, to someone?
Each tragedy teaches us a lesson we are told. So what is to be learned when a young deranged man gets hooked on his social networks and a few awful websites, follows his inner voice and buys a gun, too easily it seems. He then enhances the gun's capacity to shoot multiple bullets and goes to where he knows a member of Congress will be speaking and meeting with her constituents. He shoots her, it seems with the intent to kill her, and then he empties the gun's magazine on the helpless, unarmed ordinary people who have come to the same place, but for a different purpose.
With nothing but their bare hands, they overcame the armed man and took his gun away. In that is the lesson I see - and that is that the inner peace we share with one another is always evident so that when the time comes and the greater good is more than the survival of one - we shine in our humanity. That one quality takes us back to our beginnings.
The best thing we can all do now is end the war with nothing but our bare hands and voices that say we are better than this.
© 2017 Star Tribune