By jared a. j. butler - Posted on 08 January 2011

The 'lock and load'/'take up your arms' rhetoric of American politics isn't just an overheated metaphor. ...But words have consequences, rhetoric shapes reality, and much as we like to believe that we are creatures of reason, there is something about our species' limbic system and lizard brainstems that makes us susceptible to irrational fantasies.

-Marty Kaplan, "The Lock and Load Rhetoric of American Politics Isn't Just a Metaphore,Huffington Post, 8 January 2011 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-kaplan/gabrielle-giffords-shooting_b_806232.html)

 

Arizona has become a mecca of prejudice and bigotry. ...That may be free speech, but it does have its consequences.

-Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik

 

 

 

At times in our history we've seen liberal rhetoric reach points of extremism; in 21st Century America the incontrovertible fact is that conservative rhetoric; exacerbated by the rise of Palin, the Tea Party, religious fundamentalists et al.; ever wavers toward violence and extremism.

Partisanship aside, our enemy on all fronts is precisely this extremism. We should turn our ears from the fringe voices on the Left and on the Right who urge us to indulge our hatred and anger. Let us sincerely hope that reason will guide public discourse through this divided era in our history, and that the Left and Right will indeed balance each other toward a synthesis of thought beneficial for all.

Let us recall that there are those among us who fall into the dark chasms our angry words dig; not guided by the light that may come more easily to other minds--the naturally unflappable, the flighty, the level-headed and the brilliant--they are left in their solitude to fester in the anger of Our Times.  Let us be their caretakers and hold our sharp tongues.

Congresswoman Giffords is a non-partisan representative of the civil rights issues of Our Time: while there is need to secure our borders and mind our pocketbooks, we cannot forget that one need not be white or affluent in order to be counted in this country.  One need not be literate, or English speaking, to be counted as a human, and a sick man or woman of this nation not privileged with wealth need not be sentenced to death, for we care for our own regardless of their various contingencies.  

Humanity has indeed suffered today, along with the families of those wounded and killed.  Let us hope that today's events will be a harbinger of Better Times.

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