In these difficult days following the tragic turn of events in Tuscon, Arizona, it has been my daily pledge to pay attention to how I express myself.
Funny, almost, how I lamented the drying up of my print media formats in favor of the immediacy of web-based social media just the other day. Not funny, though, is a battle royale among those who think and/or don't think media had anything to do with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and many members of a crowd gathered to meet her.
Yes, Sarah Palin's name entered the fray almost immediately, mostly due to a SarahPAC splash page showing crosshairs over certain states and their districts. I'm not going to talk about that, specifically, because this is not a political discussion. But I'd like to share a comment made by someone near and dear to me, who responded to a statement (not by me) on Facebook, talking about SP. "I don't understand why people hate her so much, just for speaking her mind."
Let me dissect that statement and its relevance to the events of the weekend. First, "hate". We have become a society, somehow and someway, determined to put down, disparage, and downright fight against those who do not agree with our opinions, political or otherwise. Perhaps the "mainstream media" had something to do with this; when we are provided 24 hours a day of shouting, at-a-glance news reporters driven by the assignment to dig up all they can so that the 24 hour news can indeed occur, we go to places not previously visited. Who, what, when, and why take on a whole new meaning when the public is right in (the media's) face, now, later, and in the middle of the night. We want more, and we want it now.
As to the phrase referring to Sarah Palin "speaking her mind", let me just say that everybody, not just a woman who thrives on spotlights and attention, is guilty. We have Facebook to speak our minds, we have Twitter, MySpace, blogs, comment sections, and Apps allowing us, with no sense of conscience, to say what we want, when we want; trouble is, we are not saying it to anybody in person. I truly believe that when we say something directly to someone else, we are able to read their body language, see their eyes shade with disappointment or hurt or anger, we can feel their excitement or withdrawal. When we hit that "publish" or "comment now" button, we do not have anybody staring back at us but our own reflection upon a screen. Think about it.
Perhaps the mother of a timeless writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder, said it best, way back in 1881.
"If wisdom's ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where."