I've had to spend the last week up in Prescott dealing with an extremely challenging week after my elderly mother took a bad fall -- dealing with new accommodations, finances, paperwork, and so, so many other challenges and difficult choices. One of most challenging weeks of her and my lives.
Saturday morning I was back in Tucson meeting a glass repairman at my house to have my cracked windshield replaced, he had his truck radio on and asked if I had heard of the shooting in NW Tucson. I hadn't, and we both proceeded to listen to his truck radio for breaking news updates while he worked on my car. I can't fairly describe my emotions at the time: grief, sadness, anger, frustration, pissed off, punched in the stomach, worried -- no words seem to be adequate.
No one deserves this.
Of the 20 people who were shot, the only one I have ever met was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the apparent primary target. I've listened to her speak at town hall meetings held at IBM where I used to work. She represents my district, and does so fairly and with open ears in a district that contains constituents of both liberal and conservative leanings. One of her trademarks has been holding small meet and greet events such as Saturday's where people actually have time to speak 1:1 with her for a few minutes.
One of the biggest problems in our political system in our country is getting good candidates to run who will try to do what is in the best interest of our country, not just what's in the best interests of their own party. Gabrielle is one of these rare individuals in my opinion. While its far too early to understand the twisted motives of the shooter in this instance, it does make me reflect on the role of portions of the media who make a living stirring a pot of hate between political parties rather than facilitating genuine reasonable political discussion, factual research, and discussion.
Last week I had to visit bankers for family business who had moved to a very nice new office. I remember admiring the building layout and then sitting in a reception area where a flat screen TV was tuned to a station/program where someone was ranting about a politician in a very hateful manner and with unsubstantiated facts. Hateful entertainment presented as news. I almost brought this up when I met with my appointment, what a great facility it was, but that for my own business I could never see doing business there because of how negative their lobby is. Now I wish I did.
I feel that we should all pay increased attention to where we get our information, whether its NBC, BBC, FOX News, CNN, as to whether they are presenting us with information so that WE can make reasonable opinions of our own or whether they are trying to stir our emotions so that we agree with THEIR opinions. And as with so many things, follow the money -- what is their stake in the matter? They are businesses after all.
News outlets and commentators are businesses. Free speech is important, but so is "free hearing". We are consumers. We have a vote. I'd suggest that there is value to turning off or not viewing excitable programs or news that are clearly working on emotion versus factual and civil discussions. If we turn off the program, or don't frequent non-news businesses that present emotion filled hateful programs in the background of their businesses, then we are more likely to see more balanced, thoughtful reporting.
I'll be the first to admit that I've said some unkind things in the past about some politicians that I don't think have my or my country's best interests at heart. Personally, I'm going to work even harder on keeping my perspectives and political discussions based on philosophies, research, and calm factual discussions of difference. I remember my deceased aunt and uncle, who were very religious and had their own strong political beliefs, yet prayed for our elected political leaders and their success in the interests of the country every night regardless of their politics.
The 9 year old girl that was killed, Christina Taylor Green, had been brought to the event to see how our political process works. Tragic. Tragic on so many fronts.
I'm not saying that this tragedy was or was not caused by any organization of particular leanings, I'm saying that this tragedy can serve to make all of reflect on where we may be at or headed if we as a society don't back away from all of the hateful speech we consciously or subconsciously ingest from commentators and programs which do not have our and our country's best interest in mind versus driving up their own ratings, power, and revenue by playing on emotion, fear, and bigotry.
My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of this senseless act, their families, and our country.