Weapons of Destruction or an Armour of Peace: Words...words..words...
After Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson, some have pointed the finger at inflammatory political rhetoric.
Many singled out Sarah Palin's now-infamous "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" tweet and her 'Crosshairs' campaign map, which included Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' district, as a sign that some politicians have gone too far in stoking vitriol against their political opponents. (Since the shooting, Palin reportedly emphasized in an e-mail that she "hates violence.") Others reject any connection between the shooter, who does not appear to espouse any coherent ideology, and our current political climate.
What are the ethical and moral implications of incendiary political language?
Words reflect our state of mind. Words are an expression of our thoughts which are only a step away from action.
Hallmark events, such as the tragedy in Arizona, make us pause. They shake us from our complacency and question where are we as a nation, as a community? They make us ask why did this tragedy happen? Was it inevitable? or could it have been avoided? if so how?
More than ever, America is a diverse and pluralistic country. Men, women and children of all shades, socio-economic strata, faiths, beliefs and thoughts come together daily at places of work, in public and private. in schools, in colleges. Daily we are interacting with people who are unfamiliar to us, the "others" whose ways are unknown to us, whose thoughts, and beliefs differ.
Intuitively we know, the more the perceived difference, the greater the fear generated. The fear of the unknown escalates. In these trying economic times, we are quick to blame others for our problems. It is easy to build up a rhetoric of negativity, to lose sight of the humanness of the "other" and demonize the "other". Once demonized it is easy to see them as a potential threat to be removed. We lose empathy for them.They are subhuman in our mind!
We may not know the "other" but we can mute our fears and treat them as humans with civility, as President Obama so eloquently stated in the Tucson memorial service..
The political rhetoric and more importantly its acceptance is a reflection of the state of our collective minds; of the nation. Each one of us has the power to change. We.can make a difference. We can tune out that which is not healthy for us, for our family, for our neighborhoods and for our country. We do have choices.
Today Hindus are celebrating a turning point, Makar Sankranti as the earth starts its northward part of the rotation.
Hindus prayerfully honor the transmigration of the sun as it passes through the winter solstice, from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn (Makar). The festivities stress the importance of turning within and withdrawing from unethical and disturbing behavior.
Let today be a turning point in our lives. Let us be in tune with the eternal laws of nature.
As we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy with service around the country this weekend, let is also invoke his message of non-violence and peace. As thought, so speech and its resulting action. Truth in action!
Let us become the ambassadors of non-violence, ahimsa paramo dharmah, which is the foremost duty of man to the extent that it supersedes all other duties.
"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."
Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.
(Let there be peace, peace and eternal peace).