Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Far Enough

I DO understand that we as a public are struggling to understand how someone could suddenly shoot a judge and a congresswoman and I DO understand our desire for new information, but for me today's New York Times piece "Police Say They Visited Tucson Suspect's Home Even Before The Rampage" goes too far. In this age permeated by psychology I know we want to know why: why such a senseless act happened, why an innocent judge had to die, why a 22 year-old boy could be so bitter.

Nonetheless, do we really have to know how many hours a week the mother spent managing ponds in Agua Caliente Park? Is it our business to know the suspect's father's business? What does it really mean that they built a privacy wall on one side of their property?

So turn the situation around. What would the press be saying about you if one of your family members suddenly decided to take violent action based on his or her peculiar beliefs. (And yes, you know we all have those relatives with those secret rages. The uncle that despises the postal bureau for unfair raises in postage, the second cousin angry with buses that cut him off during morning drives, the sister-in-law who is convinced that the entire staff of the local five and dime are out to get her. Not to mention those even closer to home.) So what would the paper be printing about you, if, god forbid, your child should suddenly decide to take out the customers and staff of your local convenience store?

Were some kids in the neighborhood afraid once to go into your yard and get their ball after you yelled at them for having to retrieve it for a 6th time? Did your neighbors ever hear you yelling loudly in anger? Do you have a collection of Kenyan masks hanging in your house that makes you religiously suspicious? Maybe you collect odd-shaped rocks and display them in a china cabinet or have a room that you painted black and is always closed up (never mind that you use it to develop film and print photographs - that's pretty bizarre that you haven't moved to digital yet.) Maybe you have a blog that has a bizarre title that no one understands. How would you like your personality to be summed up in a 7 word sentence, one of which by requirement has to be the word weird?

I think the Loughner family is in enough pain without having to be dissected for every questionable action or every poor choice that they ever made, so turn that spotlight back on yourself and think about how our judgments of others causes them pain. And we know that pain can lead to anger and of course we can see where anger gets us. Articles like this certainly don't make us want to talk to our neighbors. They are not like us, they are strange and of course we certainly don't want them to think weird things about us! It's like more fuel to the fire, and yet it is isolation that allows things like the recent shootings to happen. What can one do? I think shutting ourselves up in our houses and wondering will only make the problem worse, so if you really want to do something about it, my advice is, go out and have a cordial talk with your neighbors today. You could save a reputation and maybe even a life.

1 comment:

Pamela said...

The handling and care of our mentally ill should probably have been the topic of all the news sources. But the "how" is frightening, Because in the end who gets to decide who is in need of care and who is dangerous. Argh.
It is so easy to figure that out after the fact.

But, as you said, we all have quirks that could be interpreted as scary. Well.. maybe you and Min. Never me. ha ha ha ha.