PostHeaderIcon Send In The Clowns

I watched parts of last night’s memorial service in Tucson (as much as my stomach would tolerate). The experience left me wondering (yet again), why must we turn every national tragedy into a circus?

It would be easy to simply blame the media and the mindless politicians except for the fact that this crap would not be constantly offered up unless there was a significant audience ready to gobble it down.

How hard would it be for one of our “leaders” to make a simple speech explaining to the American people that, however tragic an event like this might be, and however much we sympathize with the victims and their families, there is simply no point in trying to make sense of the senseless. No point in seeking the rationale behind acts that are totally irrational.

Said “leader” could go on to explain that freedom is never free. Such tragic acts, though thankfully rare, are simply part of the cost of freedom, no less that the cost paid by those who fight to win and defend it.

An obvious truth is that when people are left free to conduct their own behavior, a few of them will abuse that freedom, sometimes with horrific results. Yet, any realistic attempt to prevent such horrors would require implementation of a police state so severe that it would destroy every value we find in life. And it would still ultimately fail to accomplish its goal.

Instead of using each inevitable tragedy as a teaching moment, our “leaders” put on these sorry melodramas, pretending feelings they don’t truly feel for people they mostly don’t know and, truth be known, don’t really care that much about. All for a few more minutes in the bright lights, before the cheering crowds who, in their fearful, emotional state, eagerly lap up whatever is laid before them. And, for the opportunity to use a tragic event to promote whatever power grab they are into this week.

No doubt hindsight will show us many clues that were missed, many opportunities to have intervened to prevent this. If this yields anything that we might do to truly improve the nation, good for us. History suggests it will not. All it will do is allow us to designate some scapegoats to blame and give yet another opportunity for our “leaders” to tell us what a great job they are doing to protect us from ourselves – and, oh, by the way, what freedoms must be curtailed to prevent a recurrence.

I am certain that many of us, on learning of the habits and apparent beliefs of Jared Loughner, will find them bizarre. But, should bizarre beliefs be a cause to restrain a person who, so far, is guilty of little more than being odd? Before you answer that, consider that I, as an atheist, find a belief system that includes bushes that talk as they burn; sticks that turn into snakes; an all-powerful entity that sees fit to spare certain overweight semi-literates while the rest of the trailer park blows away; and assumes some mysterious, yet divine purpose behind events like Tucson – more than a little odd. Just as believers must find my lack of belief odd. But, is that sufficient reason for us to deny each other the freedom to interpret the universe according to our own thought processes?

In the final accounting, many were victimized by an oddball outcast who was pathetically seeking some validation of his sorry existence. And, we gave him exactly what he craved.

Wake up America. Reality is all around us, if only we would open our eyes and our minds. And, make no mistake, rationality is the only possible hope for the future of humanity.

Send in the clowns? Don’t bother, they’re us.

Troy L Robinson

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