Sunday, January 09, 2011

Heartbreak in Arizona - Guns in the wrong hands - Lives lost, Lives forever damaged

I have held back from saying anything about the horrors of yesterday, partly because I am so angry and heartbroken that I do not want to say something I will regret or have to take back later. I can be hot-headed. I can be overly passionate. And I am human. I want so badly to lash out and blame someone or something. It is childish, I know, but the immensity of what just happened down in Tucson, my own backyard, has brought home just what I have been worrying would happen as I've watched Arizona sink farther and farther into an abyss of extremism led by crazy, opportunistic politicians willing to say and do anything to gain and retain power. And when you throw angry constituents, high unemployment, a terrible economy, an overabundance of easily-obtained guns and a systematic dismantling of any sane gun regulations in - something is bound to happen.

And it did. I guess that terrible sense of dread I've been feeling for a while was not so crazy after all.

Like Gabrielle Giffords, I am a native Arizonan, born here, raised here, educated here, married here, and then I repeated the cycle all over again with my own children. Aside from an 11 year stint living in Minnesota, I am as pure a "Zonie" as one can find. I love this state, but right now, I do not like it. In fact, right now I am so ashamed of what is going on here that I find myself embarrassed to admit that Arizona is my home.

Yep, things have gotten pretty extreme and ugly here. It was just a matter of time. You simply cannot have politicians cynically harnessing the intense emotions of their constituents for political gain and stoking fears with over-the-top rhetoric and actions and then be surprised when things go bad.

So here we are again, another black eye for the state, 6 people dead, including a 9 year old child and a respected federal judge, numerous innocents critically wounded, including State Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Many lives changed forever yesterday and my profound fear is that we will not have learned anything and it will be back to business as usual in a week or two.

My husband and I have been talking for the past few years about whether this is where we want to grow old. After all, our children are grown and none are living here or have plans to come back. This state has moved so far to the right that we no longer feel we are even represented by our politicians, much less tolerated since we do not seem to share the prevailing ideology that reigns supreme here.

I know we are a very angry and divided country right now and what happened down in Tucson could have happened anywhere, but it happened here and it happened yesterday. And I am reeling. And I am scared. And I am worried that we will not learn anything from this.

It is time for some honest reflection. It is time for some serious soul-searching. It is time for some sanity. It is time to tone down our words and our emotions. It is time to work together to make things better. It is time to talk to each other respectfully. It is time to listen attentively. We must make something good come from yesterday's horrors. We simply cannot continue on the path we have been going. We have become our own worst enemies.


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