And yet, to watch how it all unfolded in the news and online... I'd like to say that it was shocking at how so many were quick to turn the 'bloody finger' toward one another... but it wasn't.
Sad to say, if there's one thing out of this whole situation that didn't surprise me it was the utter division it brought to the political spectrum.
Because if Jared Loughner wasn't a secret Liberal Commie Sympathizer then he was brainwashed by the violent rhetoric from the Conservative Right.
He's somebody else's problem.
Their monster, not ours.
I think that the easiest thing -- the most basic, simple thing -- one can do in this situation is to turn the blame on someone else; to look at the horror of what's transpired and have your own self-preservation be the primary and overriding thought.
And I think it's pathetic.
To be clear here, I'm glad that Congresswoman Giffords is breathing on her own now. I'm glad that there is one less death to be attributed to this stupid, stupid act.
But there are innocent people who are dead now and, as far as I can tell, their only crime was to get off their ass and get out and try to be a part of the running of their country; to exercise their duty (and right) in an active and healthy Democracy; to interact with their Congresswoman and try to make their Government make sense for them.
And they're dead now. Dead or wounded.
There's a little girl who's face is being plastered all over the news, this poor little girl who wanted to be a ballerina. And a Judge. A District Court Judge who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
But what about those other people?
As far as I can tell, there's exactly one story out there and it's about a man who died shielding his wife from a hail of bullets. But pretty much everything else I can find is about who's fault it is. Who is to blame, who stands to lose in the polls (hint: 2011's not looking good for Ms. Palin) and, by God, what will the President say when he gets down there?
For all the mud-slinging and trash-talking I'm seeing on the News, for all the 'that's not what I meants' and 'how dare you's?!' what I'm not seeing is the genuine grief for these ordinary folk and what they represent: That, agree with them or not, their claim to a healthy Democracy is only as strong as the one person willing to show up and substitute bullets for ballets.
I mean, seriously, how did we get to the point where we can no longer disagree with one another without engendering hatred? Without villain-izing each another? Without de-humanizing our 'enemies' to the point where someone can get it in their head that killing those you disagree with is acceptable?
Or something to be lauded?
I'm hopeful -- if there is any shred of goodness to come out of this -- that this tragedy will spark politicians and pundits and the media to think twice about the words they speak.
I think both sides could do with taking it down a notch or three.
But I'm even more hopeful that this tragedy will inspire others, other regular folk, to stand up where those innocent bystanders fell; that it might inspire others to get involved in the care and maintenance of their Government... to put aside the rhetoric and learn the facts for themselves.
Maybe then it might not be so hard to shelve such inane labels as 'Democrat' or 'Republican' or 'Liberal' or 'Conservative'. Maybe, just maybe, then it wouldn't be so damned hard to find a way to work together for the good of all.
P.S: On a not-entirely-related-but-somehow-still-relevant note: