On a very real level, I am more depressed about the aftermath of the Giffords shooting than I am about the shooting itself.
Wait. Let me rephrase: The shooting was appalling, and I cannot stop thinking about those poor bystanders who were killed, along with those who were wounded. I cannot stop thinking about Christina Green — that poor child, just out and about, being a peppy little girl, interested and interesting, smart enough to want to go to a rally with a Congresswoman, and she’s gone, torn from her family’s arms, her future not even a whisper anymore. Shot dead for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, at age 9.
And I can’t stop thinking about Gabby Giffords, a woman I’d literally never heard of before Saturday evening. I keep fearing that I’ll turn on the radio and hear that she’s slipped away, keep holding her in my heart as if my heart could bring her back. The horror of the facts, the horror of the events, the notion that a lawmaker can be shot down while hosting the most democratic of events — listening to constituents — just overwhelms me. Poor woman, she’s fighting for her life and she suddenly a symbol for the health of the republic.
But today, tonight, it feels like the shooting is and will remain just that and only that: A shooting. An act of political violence serving only to murder and injure, an act of political violence which people will be able — will strive mightily — to pigeonhole in whatever way they have long been given to pigeonholing events, and we as a nation will not do the only honorable and noble thing and actually learn some lessons.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it is really all together too soon to draw any manner of conclusion, and who can tell? Much as I want people to be thunderstruck and awaken from their fevered dreaming in a moment of clarity, mostly people change slowly, society changes slowly, and progress is measured not in days, not even in years, but in decades, if we’re lucky.
But today, tonight, I don’t want to live in this America, this America of viperous lies and dangerous prevarication. I want to live in the one that will come next, the one that will have learned these lessons and moved that much closer to our more perfect union.
Moreover, I have a very powerful fear that the one lesson, the only lesson, that will be learned quickly is this: Shots can be fired, and people can be taken out.
And I know who the real target is.