The shooting todayat the Holocaust Memorial Museum by a “known” white supremacist is disturbing on many fronts. As I read this news, my mind flashed back to Dr. Tiller’s assassination a few weeks ago at his church. Dr. Tiller was a doctor who specialized in late-term abortions. My mind flashed back to the Knoxville UU shooting last July.
What do all three events have in common? They were all committed by people who were on the ultra-extreme right of the political spectrum. Many people in the public reported feeling that Dr. Tiller’s death was justified. There is a sense of the vigilante in the response.
MSNBC Commentator Keith Olberman holds Fox news culpable. Certainly Fox news commentators Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly do have a histrionic style of presenting the news. It borders in my mind of yellow journalism. Rational people see through the histrionics as entertainment–albeit twisted and perverse. Histrionics makes the news no longer news but a side show. But these three individuals, if Olberman is correct and Fox News is to be held culpable, might not see it as histrionics but rather as sincerely felt emotions of a moral character crying out for justice.
Ultra-extremists, regardless whether of the right or left, are narrow focused individuals. They have become blind to other possibilities; other points of views. They see only in high contrast of black and white. So the question becomes, not how do we get rid of them, for that answer results in the same sort of blind ultra-extreme response. Rather the question is how do we create an environment that allows for greater acceptance of the pluralism. How do we ease the trauma that people feel when they see their world moving away from the contrast of black and white to the colors of the rainbow?
Many people turn to religion to find answers but the answer is not clinging to the dogmatism of one’s faith. That answer is to slide towards one of the poles of the extremes. It is to grow rigid when life demands the fluidity of a river to remain clean and life giving. Instead religion should aid people in being able to be flexible, to seek out the gifts of forgiveness and compassion. Religion should aid people in expanding their experience of life not in narrowing it.
The beloved community is not about everyone being exactly like me and thinking exactly like me but rather being their own unique flower in the bouquet of humanity. I don’t have the answers to how to expand the conversation so that those opposed to liberal notions are heard and understood and those opposed to conservative notions are heard and understood. To honor and respect each other is a life long task.
That cry seems to be coming into sharper focus these days. May we find our way soon before the pain that is being felt is more acute in our society. BLessings,