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Small Wonders: The wisdom to shirk politics

January 15, 2011

Wisdom: the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

I blame you. And Sarah Palin. And me. And Karl Marx.

Within minutes of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Arizona, fingers of blame were being directed at one group, person or another. So toxic is our political landscape today that no opportunity is lost to use any event to fuel our political fervor, appropriating it to foment the roiling cauldron of fear, partisanship and paranoia that has commandeered our political debate. And our world.

The left immediately and without proof drew loose lines from suspected shooter Jared Loughner to Sarah Palin's use of gunscope crosshairs in political ads targeting congressional districts to win after those seat holders voted for the health-care overhaul bill — a target list on which Giffords' seat was named. Or to Tea Party candidate Jesse Kelly, who opposed Giffords in the last election, for urging voters to help "…remove Gabrielle Giffords from office" while shooting an M16 with him.

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Those on the right cried victim, pointing out that one of Loughner's favorite books was "The Communist Manifesto," and that he was an admitted atheist and flag-burner, like all liberals. This was yet another case of the liberal media's vendetta against truth, they argued.

Until further evidence surfaces, we don't know Loughner's motives. We may never know. Most likely, this was just a random, senseless cry for attention by one of society's outsiders coupled with porous gun-control laws.

But like every other tragedy in an often brutal world, our responsibility is to find hope and purpose in the chaos; to seek what good can come from it. And there is always good to find.

I can already see you wagging your crooked finger at me with accusations of naivete and rosy political correctness. But I'm not saying we should outlaw free speech or couch every form of public expression in niceties and uber-sensitiveness for fear one nutjob with a slightly mutated strand of DNA will pick up an Uzi and lay waste to a synagogue.

I know it's not the gun. I know it's not the media. It's the person holding it and the people controlling it. It's you and me. People. Nothing else has wisdom. Or at least the potential of it.

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