Today Christina Taylor Green was laid to eternal rest. Two days ago, there was a call by our President to lay rancorous language to rest. I guess old habits are hard to break. Children asked their parents if Arizona was a safe place or if they should worry about walking down the street in Tucson. Michelle Obama wrote an open letter to parents about the shootings and fear and offered motherly consolation. (Her youngest daughter is a few months older than Christina) Rush Limbaugh could not let this pass without ridiculing Mrs. Obama and her words even to the point of imitating a youngster on his program. Sorry, Rush, but what’s your point? What are you afraid of? Why do so-called conservatives need to be cynical and continue to promote fear? It would be easy of, course for us to make fun of some of the conspiracies and down right fear-mongering but that only adds fuel to their fire-without-warmth rhetoric. I actually feel sorry for the Becks and Savages and Limbaughs of this world. They obviously did not get the memo on constructive critique nor do they have hope for the future. Their stock in trade is to keep hope at abeyance for their listeners and viewers.
As Mrs. Obama said in her letter to parents talking about their kids:
We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
Ignatian Spirituality addresses this issue as well when Ignatius urges us to “presume goodwill” of people at least until they have been proven to be of “ill will.” Events and people like Tucson and Oklahoma City, the Unibomber, Eric Rudolph, the Army of God, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and all homegrown terrorism make us fearful. But this is not the paralyzing fear that some on the right perpetuate day after day. If a fear is repeated over and over again, like a lie, then it becomes the motivating force that drives us and our decisions. It causes us to make foolish statements or do foolish things. Fear gets its food from the unknown and there are a lot of “unknowns” out there aren’t there. The economy, North Korea, natural disasters and the like. It seems like all those fragments lack a center and look for a cause. I am not so naive as to think we shouldn’t fear, but rationally speaking fear demands rational thought not knee jerk reactions. If I totally give over my thinking to people in the media and become afraid of thinking for myself or not double-checking what they pontificate, then what do I have? Half-truths or no-truths and more fear.
To end with more from Mrs. Obama’s letter to parents:
The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers. But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.
Time to change the dial.
and so it goes…