By Jessica Connor
We don’t know what spurred Jared Loughner to go on an alleged shooting spree Jan. 8, leaving six innocent people dead, including a 9-year-old girl. We don’t know whether it was, as some have suggested, a festering response to the intense political vitriol that has slowly been building to a crescendo in our nation, or some other reason entirely.
But we believe the political venom being spewed needs to end now.
We are humans first, before we are Democrats or Republicans, Americans or foreigners, men or women.
We are brothers and sisters no matter our race, color, creed or political affiliation. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether we self-identify “liberal” or “conservative,” whether we listen to Rush Limbaugh or Arianna Huffington or Bart Simpson. It matters how we treat our neighbor, how we respond to “the least of these.”
As the Advocate goes to press on this edition, more than 50 prominent national religious leaders of varying faiths and denominations (including United Methodists) had just released an open letter to Congress calling for a time of national soul-searching, reflection and public dialogue about “violent and vitriolic political rhetoric.”
“We are deeply troubled that rancor, threats and incivility have become commonplace in our public debates,” letter signers tell members of Congress. “…We urge you to continue to serve as stewards of our democracy by engaging ideological adversaries not as enemies, but as fellow Americans.”
(Read the full text online at faithinpubliclife.org/content/feature/ TucsonResponse.pdf.)
The Advocate strongly supports this letter.
We agree with the signers — we are all children of God. We need to accept differing political opinions and understand that our nation is a beautiful mixture of many parts, all of which are necessary and relevant in their own way.
We can learn from our differences. And usually, we can come to higher ground when we do so.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5: 43-45)
Stop the political hatred. We’re all in this together.