The Real Tragedy in Tucson
The most enduring criticism of my work is not the nature of it, the tenor of my words, the lack of passion for my subjects: it is always that I speak them too softly in a world all to willing to shout the most ill-conceived ideas. I have been of the conviction that the proper words spoken dispassionately still resonate with those ready to hear them and those unready will never hear them at any volume level.
The reason I feel that way has been my experience in my adopted hometown, Tucson. I have loved living here for the past 30 years, watching it grow from a sleepy, dusty old-west town, to a modern city as full of the diversity of life as any other. I have alternately praised it and teased it, as I would a familiar friend, and it makes me ache that the world sees us now as it must.
I was five years old when President Kennedy was shot that day in Dallas and it is forever linked that way in my consciousness. Not for the Cowboys, not for the magnificent city it was and is, and nothing will change my opinion of that, sadly. It was the way it was first brought to me and it remains that way.
So now it is for Tucson.
Let me talk to you, plainly, of my life here. There is an element in this city that, even in the midst of this, will continue with the rhetoric that made this moment inevitable. I say, openly, that it exists here, I acknowledge it exists everywhere in this country and I would expect it so exists in most of the world. The reason it exists is solely because we allow it, we embrace it as it serves our message and are all too willing to absolve ourselves of its manifestation in violence. We will forget this moment as quickly as we can because it’s simply too painful to bear for long and that is the real tragedy. Days will pass, those willing to engage in such tactics will spin them, and spin them back out into the popular discourse, as those who are unwilling to engage in them will dismiss them as a fringe element which only serves to enrage those in that element.
Recently I wrote an article discussing the philosopher Hegel and his theory that a government should reflect, ideally, the morals of the people and I’ve begun to think that is not an ideal to strive for but an inevitability, especially in a democracy. The world is all too willing to turn a blind eye to violence as long as it serves its purpose but when it is acted out in a sudden fashion, in an unfamiliar setting, it is surreal moment.
The moment always passes with no soul-searching, no resolution that this is the last, no line drawn.
All moments speak softly, ultimately, to those unready to hear what they say.
Why are weapons such as the one used in this attack legal? Anyone who thinks they are so important that they need 20 bullets to protect themselves is paranoid and as such should not have access to such a weapon. Do these individuals think an army is going to attack them, just them, or is it more likely they believe as Mao did that power grows out of the barrel of a gun? How do these people fit into a peaceful, democratic society? Why are they tolerated?
Lobbyists. Need I say more?
I could not possibly cite how many times I’ve spoken of our culture of violence in my soft voice and I speak to it again, softly, though the moment does shout it for me. I hear the Congress is going to suspend all business to address protecting itself from the violent society IT ALLOWS. Well, bully for them. I hope they don’t have to spend too much of their gun-lobby money on it.
I hope in their deliberations on this moment, our Congress will dwell on the pain of it, as we in Tucson must and see it as it truly is: the manifestation of their vitriol and an expression of their weakness in the face of evil. That I have no expectation that they will change anything is the real tragedy in Tucson.