No need to post the grotesque picture of Kathy Griffin. No need to explain it. Her attempt at shock and awe worked — to her own demise. And to our own collective demise, that we’re subjected to this “entertainment.” She’s apologized. CNN has acted. But the damage has been done, a further coarsening of civic discourse. This transcends even partisan norms. Red America. Blue America. Everything in-between America finds this appalling, as we should. We’re Red, White, and Blue America at our core, and perhaps this grotesque “art,” designed to polarize, will ironically bring us together.
The Portland stabber needs no explanation as well. The real, murderous violence, inspired by deep hatred, was horrific. Period. Three citizens, from different backgrounds themselves, were united in solidarity against the hate being spewed. There is no partisan instinct there. A man trying to polarize was met with united resistance. Two died in service to their fellow neighbor, a stranger. I thank them, because that could’ve been my wife, my daughter, our wives, our daughters, anyone being insulted and berated.
These two recent actions have occupied the news cycle, and for good reason. We must reflect on who we are as a people, not merely as partisans seeking some angle, some narrative, some attempt to commoditize a tragedy for merely partisan gain. This is cause for collective lament. These actions are lamentable. I’m not naïve; I realize we have substantial differences as Americans on a host of consequential policy issues, and those debates will ensue, that we’ll return back to the normal programming, a programming that’s sucking the soul dry and offers no good news. The fatigue is real. Perhaps, just maybe, we can pause long enough to reflect on our own instincts and renounce all forms of bitterness that would pollute our capacity to love our neighbors. And denunciation, alone, isn’t enough, outraged though it might be, and rightly so, to actually bring healing to our fractured country. We must commit ourselves to action, some form of neighborly engagement that transcends partisanship, where collaboration is rooted in a solidarity that rejects the narrative of nonstop polarization. Let your moral imagination soar as you think of ways to be an agent of shalom in our communities.