Sunday, 9 January 2011

America: Calling an end to the civil war

America at war

The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona yesterday brought into stark relief the fact that America is at war, a civil war of multiple fault lines drawn and being made sure by generals and lieutenants that range from the media, through religion to politics.

The sides are many, the Conservatives versus the Liberals, the Republicans versus the Democrats, the right versus the left, the right versus the wrong; the wedge issues being big government, abortion, guns, immigration, gay marriage, taxes, the military, the rich, in fact, any issue from which someone can launch an attack, discarding the facts for sensation, talking lies so much that they become true, rallying the mob – a euphemism for the American People to action through intemperate vitriolic language leaving no room for contemplation.

God has been stolen by the one side, patriotism is the drumbeat to which another marches to call the others traitors, pundits have their entrenched positions never to meet in the middle, analysis is dead twice over and common-sense has long been fossilised it is burned off as fuel, one-upmanship, brinkmanship are the order of the day – if you had a heart, it had better not be of flesh or it will be exhausted by the tirades.

Seeking one healthy body of America

Yesterday, America had the opportunity to look at itself again and wonder how it all got to this – where did the wide gulfs exacerbated by earth-moving tremors emanate from, who gives this state of affairs the oxygen of existence and what can be done to bring America back to one body at ease with itself?

Two eyes that see reality, two ears that hear in stereo, two nostrils that do not breathe alternately, one brain not ravaged with schizophrenia, two arms lifting burdens in unison, two legs that walk strong in the paths of righteous, wholesome and civil discourse engendering brotherhood, a house in unity and one nation kept in good faith.

Making amends with the 1st and 2nd

Yesterday, brought the freedom of assembly in the promotion of democratic representation and accountability met with the abuse of the right to bear arms responsibly and that is probably where the real debate should begin from.

The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution [1] covers a whole range of freedoms from religion, to free speech and the freedom to assemble whilst allowing for the people to petition for governmental redress of grievances.

The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution [2] is broadly accepted as the right to bear arms, I have had issues with the English interpretation of the this amendment but this is not where to raise those matters, but I have come to the conclusion that the people who know that law have predicated this amendment on just the five 4-letter words obviating the need for the grammatical constructs of the statement. “Well free keep bear arms”

Applying the gun safety rule to speech

In context, let us examine the matters of the right to bear arms and that of freedom of expression.

Whilst the debate about bearing arms rages the fact is responsible gun ownership means adhering to a whole range of gun safety rules; safe storage from unauthorised use, engaging the safety latch/catch to prevent accidental discharge, aiming in the direction in which the gun is being fired with the responsible selection of the right targets and not shooting indiscriminately endangering yourself or the public in your use of the weapon.

That, in itself is definitely not too much to ask, gun owning does not having to become gun-toting; America is no more the Wild West.

Applying that analogically, speech is free, just as the right to assemble is free but we do not assemble in dangerous places putting ourselves and others at risk, a public place like where the congresswoman was meeting her constituents should have been safe, secure and without risk to life or limb.

In the same vein, one wonders why a safety catch cannot also apply to the freedom of expression and free speech, that safety being civility when expressing oneself and having the ability to hold ones peace even when provoked.

People can choose their words carefully that they can disagree without being disagreeable, they can express great displeasure without being abusive, they can withhold praise rather than rail with condemnation, they can speak the truth without helping rekindle the fires of hell and incitement.

Return to one America

There is opportunity and scope for Americans to revisit the spirit that built that country into the greatest nation on earth, this unique and elevate position cannot however been maintained if you are all bent on tearing each other down to be hear, to be seen, to gain power and to diminish others.

The shooting at Tucson was one tragedy too many, as the local sheriff said [3], Arizona had become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry, true Americans know their nation was built on greater virtues and godly principles – they should call a time-out on this unpalatable situation.

Lower the temperature, stop the vitriol, engage in wholesome discussion and the hardest thing to do is probably genuinely smile whilst accepting that a difference in opinion does not have to become the seed for sowing hate and waging battles.

As we reflect, our thoughts and prayers should be with the bereaved and the victims of this heinous tragedy and the people who fan the embers of discord should be called out and shamed for their un-American activities.


[1] First Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Second Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] @HuffingtonPost: Arizona sheriff: 'We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry'

Gabrielle Giffords - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2011 Tucson shooting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Gabrielle Giffords I Know by Eleanor Clift - A really human side to being a Democrat Rep in a GOP district.