Most of us can only imagine the terror of being shot at by a deranged gunman. But sadly, we know all too well the shock and horror that come with hearing about yet another shooting at a school, theater, nightclub, church, workplace, or shopping mall.
This Wednesday, it was an attack at a ballfield that targeted some of our duly elected members of Congress. As I write this article, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana remains hospitalized from a gunshot wound to the hip. Also wounded were Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, congressional staffer Zachary Barth, and Matt Mika, a former congressional staffer who now works at the Washington office of Tyson Foods.
We may not have been the ones staring down the barrel of a gun on Wednesday morning but make no mistake, this was an attack on the integrity of our government, and was therefore an attack on all of us.
Let me say that again.
No matter the political party of the victims, no matter the contents of the gunman’s Facebook or Twitter feed, no matter whose campaign he volunteered with, no matter what media outlets he got his news from, no matter which organizations he belonged to, no matter why he targeted the people he targeted, this attack was an attack on all of us.
When we are attacked, it’s natural to want to fight back. But how? And against whom?
In the wake of this barbaric act, some have tried to cast blame on political opponents, allegedly biased members of the media, a comedian who posed with a severed head, the producers of a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, and scores of other convenient targets.
But after the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords outside an Arizona supermarket, I recall similar criticisms pointed in the opposite direction, and none of it was helpful in bringing our country together in a desperately needed spirit of healing.
I propose instead that we fight back against the normalization of violence itself, and the threats of violence that seek to silence our collective voices.
Against misinformation and propaganda, we fight back with facts.
Against overheated rhetoric, we fight back with reasoned arguments.
Against fake news, we fight back with fact checking.
Against blind partisanship, we fight back with tolerance.
Against inflammatory memes, we fight back with restraint.
Against personal attacks, we fight back with respect.
And against violence, we must rededicate ourselves to the principle of non-violence.
In our polarized society, in our overcharged environment, in our age where shocking news is delivered instantly to devices in the palms of our hands, fighting violence with reason, facts, tolerance, restraint, respect, and, most of all, non-violence, has never been more important.
By staying informed, by providing feedback to our members of Congress, by engaging in civil dialogue and peaceful demonstrations, by registering to vote, and by turning out on Election Day, we can have a positive effect on the direction of state and national leadership, all without anybody getting shot by anybody else.
Thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Scalise, Officers Bailey and Griner, Mr. Barth, Mr. Mika, and their families, and much gratitude to all of the law enforcement officers who prevented this incident from becoming an even greater tragedy.
Opinion blog posts represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Indivisible Groton Area or its individual members. IGA invites input and opinion from among the diversity of its membership.