Sunday, November 19, 2017

Alexandria Shooting was ‘Wake-Up Call’ That Shouldn’t Have Been Needed

Wednesday morning’s Alexandria shooting has been described as an important ‘wake-up call’ for politicians and our political discourse.

What we believe we know about the shooting is this: shortly after 7:00am, a 66-year-old man who had become homeless and who, by all accounts, was disgruntled with the Republican Party, went to an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field where GOP lawmakers were having an early-morning practice for an upcoming annual charity ballgame. The man asked South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, who was leaving the field early because of a meeting, whether the team practicing was made up of Republicans or Democrats. Duncan, a Republican, said the team was made up of Republicans.

Minutes later, that man opens fire, shooting four people, including the House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, before being shot by two Capitol Police officers. The gunman later died of his wounds.

House Speaker Paul Ryan dramatically stated, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

It was a curious display of unity in a government that hasn’t seemed unified in years.

I’ve heard people talking about the shooting being a “wake-up call.” It should send a clear message, they say, that we need to tone down the rhetoric and work on building bridges rather than inspiring further division.

What a shame it is that we’ve reached a point in this country where we have to look at something so senseless and try to assign something “positive” to it.

We shouldn’t take any kind of solace in a mass shooting. We shouldn’t be grateful for a “wake-up call.” 

We should never have reached a point at which we need that kind of wake-up call. Unfortunately, we have a nation divided (mostly) into two political parties and neither seems able to take what it’s only too eager to dish out. When one party’s candidate loses an election, that party spends the next four years (or eight) complaining, nitpicking, belittling and insulting at every opportunity. Then, when the other party’s candidate gets elected, the roles reverse and there’s all this sudden outrage.

So what’s going to happen in the aftermath of the Alexandria shooting?

How long will this lovely little show of unity actually last? A few days? A couple of weeks? A month?

What happens then? If past patterns remain constant, we’ll go right back to our old ways, rebuilding any hostilities that were temporarily torn down, increasing the anger out there until someone else with a gun or a knife or a baseball bat or Lord knows what else decides to act.

And we’ll play the whole “wake-up call” thing all over again.

Maybe this time — if we really try — we can keep civility around a bit longer.

If we really try.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.