We The People 2/4/11

Some of our local Democrats help to author a running column in the Crossville Chronicle titled “We the People.” We will now be posting some of those articles on this site weekly. Enjoy.

The first article is by John Wund titled “In the Wake of Tragedy”

In 1170 A.D., King Henry argued with his former friend, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The ailing king had his young son crowned at York, a clear slap at the authority of Canterbury. Thomas Becket excommunicated those who presided at the coronation.

According to a contemporary biographer, upon hearing of Becket’s string of excommunications Henry uttered these words: “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”

Henry’s angry words were far short of a direct order to kill the Archbishop. Nevertheless a group of zealous retainers chopped off the top of Becket’s skull in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170. There were several witnesses, one being the aforementioned biographer.

Henry recognized and accepted his role in what had transpired. He recovered his health and went to Becket’s tomb in a public show of remorse. He accepted blame for his intemperate words which had created a climate that tipped zealotry toward murder. As a result, history remembers Henry II not as a sniveling coward hiding behind the skirts of denial but as a brave, though tragic, figure.

On January 8, 2011, a would-be assassin put a bullet through the skull of Gabby Giffords. We may never know all that went through his mind, but we do know that Gabby was the assassin’s primary target. We also know from his youtube and facebook postings that the assassin had a deep distrust of “the government”, felt we needed to return to the gold standard and feared “political correctness” as a form of mind control.

Furthermore, he lived in a country awash in gun rhetoric. Gabby’s political opponent, for example, issued an invitation to “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” And then there are the Palin crosshairs, the Bachmann Second Amendment craziness, and so on. Public words fall on zealots as well as the level-headed, on the sane and deranged alike.

But as soon as 1/18/11 happened, those who stoke anti-government fear and anger look for skirts to hide behind. Radio and TV talking heads pointed fingers and declared innocence. Politicians who claim to believe in a “culture of personal responsibility” refuse to accept any. None of them showed the bravery of King Henry.

So we the people are left by ourselves to glean lessons from the ruins of January 8th. In the words of one of the most eloquent Presidents in our history,

“Sudden loss causes us to look backward- but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, our our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame- but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.”

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