Who is really to blame?

“Mommy why did the bad man shoot that little girl? Did his imagination get sick?”  This is the question my 4-year-old so innocently asked while watching the news coverage of the tragedy in Tucson.  The only response I could manage was, “Yes, sometimes that happens to people.”  I was stunned and quietly proud that my 4-year-old made such a profound statement.  That is exactly what happened to Jared Lee Loughner: His imagination got sick.

Six people were killed and 13 injured during a shooting in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011.  One of the 13 injured was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and while she is currently making a miraculous recovery, there are six families in mourning and 12 others still going through the healing process.  And while the country is rooting for the Congresswoman from Arizona, there is a political firestorm sweeping the nation, the heat being felt even right here in our little Village of Chester.

Rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric is all we are hearing about these days.  We are too nasty, we need to be nice, don’t put cross hairs on the map, don’t make threats and do not speak ill of others.  This is what is happening right now in our country, and while many of the examples above are inappropriate, it’s comparable to blaming madness and tragedy on rap or hard rock music. Are we not all responsible for ourselves?  This has become a nation of excuses.

As far as I can tell, political rhetoric has always been nasty.  That’s the beauty of the political machine, snubbing the opponent publicly, peppering the airwaves with malicious commercials and almost coming to blows at respectable debates although they were at the local honky tonk joint.  It has always been cutthroat, and now because a crazy person shot a congresswoman it’s the politicians’ and the media’s fault for using “violent, harsh, mean” (take your pick) rhetoric.  I don’t buy it.

I am sick of all the excuses.  Last time I checked, we, the people, of the United States were the ones responsible for our actions. Isn’t that what most of us were taught as children?  No longer are we making anyone responsible for his or her actions.  A teenager driving drunk: It’s the beer commercial’s fault. A young kid doing dangerous stunts on a skateboard: MTV’s fault. A kid who doesn’t get honor roll at school: The teacher’s fault.  It’s sickening, yet the one thing you rarely hear is a parent reprimanding their child or making them own up to their poor choices or bad behavior and that is what is happening right now on a larger scale in this country.

We have become a nation of whiny, annoying and “What about me?” people.  The very thought that a mentally disturbed person walking up on an innocent scene and opening fire is the fault of the nation’s media and politicians is insane.  It is the shooter’s fault that he killed and injured 19 people.  It isn’t MSNBC or Fox News or even Sarah Palin’s fault.  Could we all be a little kinder to one another? Sure we could. Should the media and the politicians start setting a better example? I would love to see it. Should we all try to be loving, giving and in tune with our needs as communities? Absolutely, we should.  These are all things that we as a community and as a country should aspire to do and it starts with each and every one of us taking our responsibilities as citizens seriously.  No more excuses.

This rhetoric debate is just the icing on the cake of problems that are swirling all over this country and even in our little town of Chester.  We need to stop blaming one another, own up to our behavior and try and take positive steps forward to build this great nation back up to one of strong and loyal citizens.  

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