Meditations on the Tragedy in Tuscon

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Anger is natural and, with honesty and discipline, can often be productive. But hatred is a disease with no productive value. The wounding of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others, and the killing of U.S. District Judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, Christina Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck and Dorwan Stoddard, is hatred. The young man who was the alleged shooter appears to be diseased. Our collective investigation and response must not end with the dismissal of this tragedy as symptomatic of one man’s illness. His infirmity exists in a cultural environment that cleared the path for his act of violence. First, we are manufacturing hatred at a furious pace. We hate government. We hate gays. We hate non-Christians. We hate immigrants. Second, because we have become so accepting and even encouraging of violent words and deeds against those we hate, we do not recognize or treat mental illness before it results in tragic and senseless death.

Whether Conservative or Liberal, we must end our addiction to hatred. Hating those who make us angry, barricading ourselves from them and reducing our world to a postage stamp of like-minded neighbors is not the answer. Hatred in thought or deed is, at the least, unproductive and isolating, and, at worst, deadly. Be angry. Be outraged. Be honest about what you fear will happen and be disciplined in working to prevent it. Do not hate.

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