Eliminating the Fear, Derailing the Hate
It's about fear.
Over the past week, since the terrible carnage in Tuscon, Arizona, when a gunman opened fire at a local congresswoman's neighborhood gathering for her constituents, killing six and wounding thirteen, much speculation has arisen over the shooter's possible motives.
In an unusual consensus of opinion, both Democrats and Republicans, as well as left and right leaning media, have decried the violent, hate-filled rhetoric which has all become a staple of the American political agenda, pointing to it as a root cause which, when ingested by the public, gives rise to tragedies like the one which hunted down Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents.
A dialogue which encourages politicians and media mouths to expunge hate-filled, angry language from their platforms and discourse is long overdue, but I think it addresses the problem after the boulder starts rolling down the hill, when it's all but impossible to stop the acceleration.
Hate is a by-product of fear. When people are afraid that their way of life is threatened, the fear factor creates a mentality of self-preservation, encouraging the individual to protect himself from the threat.
Too often, especially in the recent past, the American political psyche has become increasingly polarized by fear. We're encouraged to believe that members of opposing political parties are "out to get us" and destroy our way of life. We have good reason to fear "them." They are not us and must be stoped, the unspoken message being, at any cost.
The cost last Saturday was the life of a nine-year-old girl, among other lives lost and wounded, including Congresswoman Giffords, who was attempting to enact politics in its most pure form--as a discourse among the people, with both dissenting and consenting views deserving a voice in an atmosphere devoid of rancor and more important, fear of one another.
It's the fear that truly polarizes us and only when we stop seeing those with dissenting viewpoints as people to be feared will we derail the hate and stop the boulder before it runs over everyone in its path.