SILENT, BUT DEADLY: Tragedy In Tucson

A political event in a Tucson supermarket parking lot turned deadly January 8th, when a lone gunman opened fire.  The shooter, 22 year-old Jared Lee Loughner, is in custody and is expected to be charged with the attempted assassination of US Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, whom he shot in the head and is fighting for her life in an intensive care unit.  He also faces two counts of murdering a federal employee, U.S. District Judge John Roll, and more counts of attempted assassination of a federal government employee.  He has been assigned a lawyer who defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

To pile more tragedy on top of tragedy, 6 people were killed – among them was third grader Christina Taylor Green, born on 9/11, who was at the “Congress on the Corner” event because of her interest in government and had been elected to the student council at Tucson’s Mesa Verde elementary school.  As classes resumed Monday morning, the community is figuring out how to explain to all the students that their classmate was gun downed at the Safeway?!  Associate Superintendent, Todd Jaeger, said that teachers would meet with psychologists to discuss Christina’s death with all the students.  “One of the things we know is that we have to be honest with kids and answer their questions…without adding to their angst,” he said.

Meanwhile, Loughner, who has not spoken a word to authorities while in custody, is being described as a loner and social outcast who dropped out of college and was rejected by the military.  Prosecutors are alleging that he had scribbled on an envelope “my assassination,“ before leaving for the event.  Not sure what that means exactly, but likely that he was planning to kill.

So, the first thing everyone does is point fingers and try to cast blame.  All over the media we are hearing that inflammatory political rhetoric might have something to do with pushing this guy over the edge (for example, Sarah Palin’s infamous “don’t retreat, reload” rally cry, as well as her map with crosshairs over different congressional districts, including Tucson…and a Florida campaign manager who said “if ballots don’t work, we’ll use bullets”).  The person who is to blame is the one who pulled the trigger, but what responsibility do the rest of us have in pushing people’s buttons? 

Our kids learn how to push buttons at a very early age…so, do our husbands, for that matter?!  They do it to get our attention and to elicit a response, right?!  We either let them or we don’t – we have the power to control our reactions, but sometimes, they just know what buttons to push to drive us mad.  What do you think MAMAs – can a constant barrage of negativity and partisan bashing push someone right over the edge?  Are there some silent citizens who hear those wielding the biggest microphones and are incited to violence because of what they hear and feel?  Are we pushing too many buttons and creating too much noise to try and rile people up?  Because of the economy and the wars, we are a nation that seems “locked and loaded” already, right on the edge. We are craving a connectedness and a compassion that seems missing in our society.  We are turning on each other, instead of turning to each other.  So, after our country’s MOMent of silence out of respect for those injured and murdered, we cannot stay silent anymore.  We have to speak up and call out dangerous rhetoric for what it is – dangerous and divisive.  We don’t have to change our opinions or our message, just the delivery of the message.

As the moms of America, it is our responsibility to raise kids who are connected, secure people that become positive contributors to society.  People who don’t snap, crackle or pop under the constant barrage of sensational stories and inflammatory rhetoric.  So, what did this boy’s MAMA do wrong?  He lived under her roof and clearly need help – why didn’t he get it?  How do we teach our kids to filter information, think for themselves and be a responsible, healthy and productive member of society?  To have a thick skin and handle the pressures around them, to vent constructively instead of popping?  How do we keep them engaged and empower them to be part of our country’s solutions, not part of the problems?  How can O-MAMAs wrap our arms around our kids, and our country, and bring us together in our time of crisis?  

5 Responses to SILENT, BUT DEADLY: Tragedy In Tucson

  1. Anonymous January 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    We all must take responsibility when our kids flip out…this 22 year old's family and community failed him and, in turn, he failed society. So sad. Such a tragedy. You hit all the right hot buttons in this story MAMAS!

  2. Anonymous January 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm #
    Opinionated MAMA

    I disagree with previous poster. Jared shows every sign of being seriously mentally ill. I would like to know what history there is that would tell us of any attempts to seek or be offered mental health services. I know in my state the availability of services dropped dramatically under Senator Bond of Missouri. The move seemed to be politically motivated, to appease constituents that have a beef against citizens receiving care at the cost of the tax payer.

    It's well-documented that many who are mentally ill avoid/refuse services. Much of this comes from the stigma of mental illness that still is prevalent in our culture. This is a call to look closely, everywhere. Gun control; the state of politics and our personal roll measured my action/inaction; mental health services and our country's attitude toward the mentally ill.

    • Anonymous January 10, 2011 at 9:34 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I agree with you about GUN CONTROL. We need to keep guns out of the hands out of the hands of the mentally unstable…and there is no need for anyone to have an automatic weapon?! But, with so many budget cuts, how do we provide mental health services? And, how in the world can someone who is mentally ill be sound enough to "voluntarily" commit themselves?! Ugghh. Sometimes the problems seem insurmountable. So, that always brings me back to each of us has to do our part and take care of our loved ones. It doesn't seem so overwhelming if we focus on what we have control over. Would love your thoughts…

    • Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA

      I know as a mental health professional, many illnesses can be treated and people can receive care. Mental illness has rarely received a priority when it comes to budgeting in govt. It's the first to go, like music and art in classrooms. I hope this event draws attention to the needs of the mentally ill.

      I heard an interesting interview about the mentally ill as it relates to gun control. There is a law that prohibits the mentally ill from purchasing guns. It was further explained that a gun seller i.e. owner of a gun shop, has the right to refuse to sell any individual a gun based on nothing less than a bad gut feeling, and many do.

      In this case, the killer went to a Wal-mart to purchase ammunition, was turned down, and simply went to another Wal-mart. It skeeves me out to think that Wal-marts across the nation are part of who we count on to act with discretion.

      The NRA is a boogie man. I don't have an answer for the NRA problem. Another example of big money driving single issue courses, but certainly lacking an outcome that represents the majority of Americans.

    • momof3 January 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm #
      Opinionated MAMA
      Democratic MAMAS
      MAMAS 6th - 8th Graders
      MAMAS 1st - 5th Graders
      MAMAS Pre-School - K
      Party MAMAs

      I just saw clips from Michael Moore's documentary on Columbine…and K-MART actually stopped selling those kind of bullets as a result of 2 injured kids meeting with K-MART management. Kudos to K-MART. Maybe Wal-MART could do that, too?!

Leave a Reply