An Open Letter to Senator Jeff Flake regarding the shooting in Washington D.C. the morning of June 14, 2017

I sent the following to one of my Senators who was apparently at the baseball field that was shot up this morning. I’m frankly horrified that anyone would shoot at any government official, but I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming.

Before last year’s election, I said that it would not matter who won, someone would get shot. I saw nothing but extreme & excessive vitriol from both sides regarding each candidate, though I have to say without hesitation that the conservative displays were the most egregious (like Michael Flynn leading chants of “Lock Her Up” & candidate Trump’s open mocking of his opponents, using debasing & demeaning language at every opportunity).

The complete disgust each has for “the other” has been coupled with outright hatred of the people viewed as other. It was once assumed that we are all Americans first, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case now. Apparently, we are all Party first, unless you’re Christian, in which case, god chooses the GOP for you.

It is time to put away the guns, the swords, the long knives. We should instead sharpen our wits & use ideas as ammunition. I doubt very much that Senator Flake will ever see my words. I further wonder how much meaning they will have for him since, it’s obvious to me, they come from a liberal before they come from a human being & a constituent.

I guess all I can do is put the words out there & hope. Not a very comforting action.

The Honorable Jeff Flake:

Dear sir, 

I just wrote to you concerning a policy matter but didn’t want to bring up this incident in the same communication.

I have learned of the shooting at a baseball field where you & other Republican members & representatives were practicing softball. I want to express my sincerest apology to you & every other individual who was terrorized in this manner.

That this is what politics in America has become saddens me to no end. Everything we do seems to be driven by a continuous cycle of contempt, one side for the other. Like this ridiculous, ludicrous notion offered by Mr. Gingrich that career lawyers, whose interest is serving Justice before anything else, can’t properly investigate a President because at some point they made a campaign donation for “the other side.” The problem isn’t helped by this President’s animosity for facts, if not the truth itself. All of that is further complicated by 24-hour “news” organizations, like MSNBC & Fox News, who editorialize everything, viewing the world through their lens rather than presenting the facts for the people to make their own judgments.

None of this serves the administration of Justice. Make no mistake, I mean Justice in the fullest philosophical definition of that word, encompassing the dual aims of Justice: fairness & equality of liberty & opportunity for all.

The center has gone from American politics, and it results in the incredibly callous, stupidly dangerous, & viciously cruel act of violence perpetrated this morning. I wish my voice were bigger, louder. There are so many of us citizens crying out from the hollow core of American social & political life. We desperately long for a time when a person is judged on the content of their Ideas & not the color of their Party’s banner. However, it appears that the middle ground is now occupied by a flagging minority, & now we’re shooting representatives in public places (I point out that I use “we”in the royal sense, & add that I also include the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in this current thought).

I am continually discouraged by American politics. There arose a notion that we shouldn’t discuss politics or religion at the dinner table. I’m not sure from where this comes, but I’m sure that it is the most dangerous idea to hit the mainstream since slavery, perhaps. There is nothing more crucial than discussing these matters, as families, as groups gathering in communion anywhere for any reason. If people who are supposed to have affection for one another cannot manage to find a way to discuss important things meaningfully, how are we as a society supposed to maintain any dialogue whatsoever?

Instead, there is the resort to disdain, contempt, disgust, & violence, usually in that order. Marriage counselors generally say that the most dangerous thing in a marriage is contempt. If contempt reaches into the heart of just one party in the relationship, the relationship is dead unless it’s addressed quickly. The problem is that we constantly fail to recognize contempt in ourselves & therefore mistake it in others.

This constant back & forth where one “side” disagrees with the “other side” is damaging in the highest regard. It does nothing but breed contempt, derision, & enmity. 

I am truly delighted that you are unharmed, but completely inconsolable that such an incident even happened in the first place. Please share my best wishes with Rep. Scalise for a speedy recovery. I can only offer these words. Unfortunately, there is not more that I can do, except to pledge that I will continue to irritate & agitate my friends & family until they come to the table to find the center again.

We can only affect change in ourselves, however. Still, I don’t think it’s a fruitless endeavor to try. Maybe the notion of our elected officials being shot will alter the mood, but I’m not going to be overly optimistic.

Sincerely & with heartfelt sadness.


Addendum for this blog: I certainly do not think MSNBC is responsible for the dissolution of discourse. The good people there do their level best to be objective, even when editorializing. They are nowhere near the level of Fox News, which has recently become an extension of Russia Today, apparently, based on some extremely similar reporting of late.

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