Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49

Dear Mr. President,

I was sorry to hear about the disturbed man in Texas today. While I often find myself reacting emotionally to such stories, I try to separate myself from the coverage of the story and put myself in the individual's shoes. One thing I never can reconcile is the degree of anger one must feel in order to commit such a violent act. I get angry, I get emotional, I get enraged at the decisions made by this government, and I often feel that I have no means of redressing these mistakes. Voting sometimes feels like an exercise in futility, and certainly running for office myself is not a viable option (nor, as Senator Bayh so eloquently illustrated, always an effective means of changing the system.) I have joined demonstrations against war and occupation; in my indignation at the suppression of basic human rights, I have even wished to march on Washington. I'll admit I admire the nerve and strength of character of Rachel Corrie, the young Washington girl who died at the hands of the IDF defending a home set for demolition in Gaza. I could devote my life, even perhaps my death, to a political cause.

But I could not kill for it.

I could not pick up a weapon, or launch a missile or crash a vehicle into a building. I cannot find the empathy to understand why some one would do this. I understand desperation and I understand self-defense, but I do not understand this kind of attack. Clearly, to some extent, it is by nature incomprehensible. The madness of the perpetrator makes rationalizing his behavior near impossible. But I know that I cannot comfort myself with the simple answer that this man was ill, end of story. This man did not think himself irrational. This clearly took planning and preparation, this clearly took a degree of reasoning. I had never even heard of the tax law that this man found so upsetting it drove him to violence. I'm reluctant to even follow the path of searching for justification too far, because the man may have had some very legitimate points about the problematic nature of this law, but any validity to his arguments is lost, forever, in the burning wreckage of that plane.

I don't know what to think. I don't know what to say. Today, we have no simple answer.

Respectfully yours,


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