A Call for Civility In the Wake of Tucson Shootings

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Harvey D. Kart

The tragic events from this past Saturday in Tucson, Arizona had me contemplating over the state of this country.

I’m from a generation that can clearly remember sitting in my high school class and hearing that President John F. Kennedy was shot. I can relate to the fact that I was sitting in a college dorm excited about listening to Robert Kennedy’s acceptance speech in Los Angeles after winning the California primary election, and then moments later, getting shot by Sirhan Sirhan. I remember sitting in my car on May 4, 1970 and listening on the radio about how members of the Ohio National Guard fired their guns into a crowd of Kent State University students during an anti-war rally, killing four.

Daniel Casciato

I can remember running home from a part-time job at a clothing store I had in college when there were riots in the streets when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. I can remember when Malcolm X was assassinated. I was watching a football game when Howard Cosell announced that John Lennon was killed. I can remember very clearly the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. I can remember the attempted assassinations on Gerald Ford. I lived through all of this and I can remember all of these events vividly.

I can also remember that over the years there was always debate over polarizing topics such as politics and religion. But it’s gotten to the point now where there isn’t any civility. Now you have a situation where nine people including a congresswoman in a shopping center is injured by gunshots and a federal judge and a nine-year child, who was born on September 11, 2001, are among the six who were killed.

Even if turns out that this person who committed these acts on Saturday was mentally ill, the events of January 8, 2011, is a wakeup call like 9/11. The events of 9/11 was a wakeup call for us to evaluate life and recognize how fragile life is.

It’s bad enough that today’s younger generation was exposed to 9/11. Trust me…you don’t want to live through what many in my generation lived through. It was not a pleasant time. My fear is that this is where we are heading with this violence and vitriol that is happening.

What are we doing to each other?

The events of this past Saturday have nothing to do with your political affiliation, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative, or favor CNN or Fox News. Yet, people on the left are blaming people on the right and vice versa.

No. It’s all of us. If you pull out on the street, there’s road rage. There’s hate speech on the Internet. We get email chain letters from our friends and/or relatives bashing politicians or spewing hatred over a particular religion. We hear nasty jokes or attacks on people of different races at parties.

On top of that, I see younger kids playing violent video games. When I was young, our parents were upset that we were watching The Three Stooges because they would poke each other in the eye or pretend to hit each other with a hammer. Now, you see these kids exposed at an early age to video games and television where people are using violence to settle disputes.

I am cautiously optimistic that instead of having New Year’s resolutions about losing weight, stopping smoking, not drinking much, being nicer to your parents, spouses, or pets, it would be nice to tell the people in your address book and your friends/followers, no more hurtful messages coming across the emails, tweets, or Facebook postings.

It’s a fragile time in this world. It’s up to each of us to change it. Before you retell a joke, retweet or forward something from an email that is insensitive, stop and think about what you are doing. Do you really want to contribute to the ugliness that is happening?

We’d like to hear your thoughts and feelings. Post your comments below.

Harvey D. Kart
Publisher

Daniel Casciato
Assistant to the Publisher.