Insight vs. Incite

I feel as though I have lived a year’s worth of news this week.  Each moment of reflection that I get (in the car, lying in bed at night, etc.), I attempt to fit this week’s events into a bigger picture.

On January 8, 2011, a lone gunman attempted to assassinate a Member of Congress.  In so doing, he critically wounded her, and killed six — a federal judge and five other good people.  The gunman wounded more than a dozen others.  This mass shooting took place during a “Congress on the Corner” event.  Thus, all of these people were active participants in democracy.

January 12 marked the one year anniversary of the beginning of the earthquakes.  Those of you who experienced them know that a series of quakes struck Haiti last year.  They call them aftershocks only because these events follow a big seismic activity.  However, shocks of 4.5, 5.0 and greater (as Haiti experienced following the 7.0 seism) are earthquakes, friends.

In my heart, I feel that Haiti is another of Jared Loughner’s victims.

This week, the focus of this country (and the world) should have been on that blighted island nation where my son was born.  Loughner stole the spotlight with his abhorrent acts, and inadvertently created a media firestorm that took the spotlight away.

Port-au-Prince, January 15, 2010. Photo by Running Girl.

I have spent a fair amount of time the past year attempting to keep people’s attention on Haiti.  I have created presentations, and gone out to speak to large and small groups to raise money and awareness.  Pa bliye Ayiti (Don’t forget Haiti) has been our rallying cry.

This week’s anniversary was a unique opportunity to focus the attention of our generous citizens on helping our neighbors in need.   That chance has been lost forever.  The one year commemoration is gone.  Memories and good intentions will fade over time.

Americans are truly generous people.  But, we are cursed with an inability to focus on issues for long periods of time.  The vastness and riches of our nation, combined with our 24-hour news cycle, have produced this collective attention deficit.  We are immediately and always looking for the next big event on the news/entertainment horizon.  Our interests constantly alternate between the shocking and the titillating.

This was Haiti’s week, damn it.  And Jared stole it.

I had hoped that on Wednesday, President Obama would travel to Port-au-Prince.  Instead, he went to Tucson.

I wanted to see him walking among the ruins of the city.  I wanted to hear him committing more resources to help our friends.

It’s true he spoke words honoring the dead and commemorating the events.  He assured Haitians that they have an “enduring partner.”  However, there was nothing more.

I’m disappointed and angry over this.

Now back to Arizona.  Jared Loughner’s actions on Saturday were a game-changer.  No public official will ever hold a constituent event again without some consideration of these events.

A guy with whom I rarely agree made a profound statement on Facebook he other day.  He said, An attack on an elected official is an attack on all of us.  I agree wholeheartedly.

Things like political party affiliation and ideology fall away when the people’s representatives are attacked purely because of the positions they hold.  All Americans need to figuratively join hands in support in these moments.

Unfortunately, this is not what happened.

Instead, we went to war with each other.  The Left accused the Right of creating a fecund environment for gun violence with their martial-friendly rhetoric.  The Right accused the Left of exploiting truly despicable acts for political gain.  Both sides were right and wrong.

America, Lincoln’s last, best hope of man, was grieving.

The times cried out for insight.  Instead, we heard nothing but incitement.

— The Major


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Cecily on January 13, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I had the same feeling. I saw such little coverage on Haiti and was surprised. But I’ve been working almost round-the-clock so I figured I just missed it. I’m sad to learn that it wasn’t me and instead was reality. Your insights are spot-on, unfortunately. All I can say is let this be a motivator to continue to be a much-needed voice for Haiti.


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