Can adversity come from tragedy? Can peace follow violence? Can logic somehow flow from the most insane of behaviors? In the wake the shooting of a congressman and five others in the Virginia suburbs of D.C., perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to find out. Fingers are crossed.
The shooting has generated an uncommon expression of unity from a politically bitterly divided Congress. Democrats ands Republicans alike have offered statements proclaiming their desire to stand together for a change. Even President Trump, not a man who has emphasized much resembling unity in his public and private statements, has spoken quietly and with some feeling about the need to this nation to come together. That’s all good. But tomorrow, or next week, or next month, can there be any assurance the moment of good feelings can persist into the future?
I wish I knew. Perhaps the tone of some of the incendiary comments generated by our political divisions can lighten a bit. Maybe it will be possible for adversaries in Congress who have spoken harshly to lower the temperature? Can we really expect anything meaningful for our public discourse to come from these words of healing offered by representatives of both parties?
I would like to be more optimistic. I would truly want to believe that Democrats and Republicans might at least consider putting people ahead of their personal politics. That they might purposefully examine truths about government to determine the best paths for Americans of all cultures and beliefs. That they would reject the extremists — especially those who masquerade as fact-tellers — whose voices distort and pervert and who play to the basest of instincts.
I’m talking, of course, about not just the murderers like the gunman in Virginia but of those who take to social media to expound hatred and violence, and certainly those who use their links to some mainstream news-disseminating organizations to espouse untruths and to label political adversaries in the lowest of terms.
President Trump could lend a calming, sensible voice to this mission if he would. Instead of the fourth-grade brevity of tweets, he could actually speak out to support a continuing unity of purpose for all Americans, whether Democrat or Republican or in-between. He could even behave in ways that would promote a growing sense of togetherness for troubled nation he oversees.
I’m not optimistic. But I do have hope. Lots and lots of hope.