“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Yet tread we must the day after the shooter aimed his rifle through the ballpark’s chain-linked fence at members of the U.S. Congress and their staff.
It’s a temptation to tread heavily, claiming only shock when, in fact, we all heard verbal shots before we heard the the gun shots from Alexandria, VA. Moral righteousness doesn’t help on a day like this because it is moral righteousness that pointed the rifle at the Congressional Representatives the shooter regarded as the unrighteous.
One man decided to defend the American republic with a rifle, a horrendous offense that points the finger back at the rest of us who have tread heavily against the evils we deplore or who have tread less heavily in a seething wordless silence.
There is, of course, a huge difference between a rifle and a sentence. We have spoken out here about that difference. We proudly use words, not guns.
Yet, we must confess that, in the interest of defending the America we love, Views from the Edge has fired its own shots in the appalling era yesterday’s shooter sought to end with his rifle. As a follower of Christ immersed in scripture, we have known but have sometimes failed to heed the wise caution of the Letter of James (“How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And “tongue is a fire” [Js. 3:5-6]) or the counsel of the Hebrew proverb (“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”[Proverbs 12:18]).
Moral righteousness wears a multiplicity of masks and uses many vocal disguises that hide its ugliness. Today we step back a few paces to ponder the question:
“How do we speak and act responsibly in ways that bear witness to what we believe in this time that puts our better angels to the test?”
We have no answers. Only a question.
Maybe today’s Congressional baseball game will speak louder than rifles or words.
Grace and Peace,
Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 15, 2017.
It does seem that there is some shift in Washington – jarred awake by the horror of the shooting…. Hopefully……
Yes. But it is to be more than momentary, they’ll need an umpire on the field in the House and Senate. There are no umpires. Only the Supreme Court gets to play ump, and they’ve proven their bias. So….the people are the only umpires. We, the people.
P.S. I **loved** the Mr. Rogers post.
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There is a serious mental and emotional conundrum here. Loathing is the only possible feeling about the truly loathsome things that quite a number of those of the other party are doing and saying. The question then becomes: should one express the feeling or share it? If many people fail to understand what is really happening, they cannot take any action (writing or calling officials, for example). But having told them of the rotten action spreads the anger further. Not easy, this.
I must also maintain that one should define the “center” as the center from the days of Eidenhower. Eisenhower was no saint, but he said that trying to change Social Security was ridiculous, and he warned of the military-industrial complex. Also, in his day, the rich were paying their fair share in taxes. (Some even more than their fair share — even I, the democratic socialist, feel that 90% is really **too** high.). So, the “center” has shifted ***far*** to the right. The other problem with the center is that we, even if we shift our views to the center, cannot get the right to yield one single inch.
So really we have two impossible conundrums — how do we deal with loathsome, and how do we maintain a decent social safety net and a liveable environment when the [shh-loathsome] right refuses to compromise?
I’m glad I’m old. BJ says the same. (For me: listen to Vaughan Williams, or Mahler. But then I’m not trying to deal with the problems.)
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Carolyn, you hit the nail on the head. I want to be clear, however, that I’m not suggesting that we “shift our views to the center”. The center is where the different views meet; the see-saw has two ends, left and right. Both respect for the fulcrum (without which the see-saw would not be a see-saw) and honesty of conscience and self-interest at both ends of the see-saw are necessary. When one side refuses to play the game, it doesn’t work. Following the election of President Obama, the right side of the see-saw refused to play the game of respect and compromise. I agree.
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But I need to point out — the shooter was, as far as I could tell — a Bernie Sanders junkie who hated Republicans AND all Democrats who didn’t hold out for Bernie. HE didn’t read you or me. I absolutely agree that our public debate needs to go down many notches, but that isn’t going to happen as long as we have a president who tweets hate every morning. You don’t turn down the anger by ratcheting it up every day. This is not something we can do. It’s something everyone has to do.
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Thanks, Marilyn, for weighing in on this one. Especially the part “HE didn’t read you or me”. I’m CERTAIN he would have acted differently if he had 🙄! These last months I’ve been thinking again that the center is the strength of American democracy. The center is where left and right meet to find mutually agreeable compromises in the public interest, like the fulcrum of a playground see-saw. We’ve abandoned the see-saw for a tug of war in which the winner takes all, and it’s not going well.
I’ve been thinking further about loathing and loath-worthiness. Some things are downright loathsome. The shooter, perhaps, made the mistake of projecting his imagination of political purity on Bernie and imagined everyone else outside his circle of worship as loathsome. I was a Bernie guy. I’m an Elizabeth Warren guy. But I’m also tired of the avalanche of righteous emails urging me to join the club, send money, do this, do that. It’s not pretty. As a child of WWII, I do “get it” – I get how “evil” works – and I see it proceeding before my eyes in the 2016 elections (national, regional, and local). I’m fearful. I’m angry. I loathe the president because he’s earned it. But, so help me God, I don’t know how to live humanly, being true to myself, and humanely, being generous and gentle toward folks whose loathings come from the other end of the see-saw. Enough for now.
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