January 11, 2011

Finally: Jon Stewart’s reaction to the shooting in Tucson.

“Again, I refuse to give into that feeling of despair.”

Let us hope we never become numb, he says. It’s funny, when the tragedy first happened, I think I was probably far from alone in turning my eyes to Stewart. He’s become a touchstone for sanity and guidance in how to deal with such difficult moments in our nation. Now, only a few days later, the reaction while as kind and wise as I might have hoped for feels a bit too late to help the immediate wound and confusion—and too early for any real kind of perspective or guidance. Still, I’ll take it.

And I hope many of us will take his words and warnings and hopes to heart.

I do think it’s important to watch our rhetoric. I think it’s a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen and what passes for acceptable political and pundit speak. It would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn’t in any way resemble how we actually talk to each other on teevee.

I refuse to give in to that feeling of despair. There’s light in this situation. I urge everyone: Read up about those who were hurt and or killed in this shooting. You will be comforted by just how much anonymous goodness there really is in the world. You read about these people and you realize that people that you don’t even know, that you have never met, are leading lives of real dignity and goodness. And you hear about crazy, but it’s rarer than you think. I think you’ll find yourself even more impressed with Congresswoman Giffords and amazed about how much living the deceased packed into lives cut way too short. And if there is real solace in this, I think it’s that for all the hyperbole and the vitriol that’s become a part of our political process, when the reality of that rhetoric, when actions match the disturbing nature of words we haven’t lost our capacity to be horrified. Please let us hope we never do. Let us hope we never become numb to what real horror, what the real blood of patriots looks like when it’s spilled.


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