In the aftermath of yet another act of senseless violence, this one in Colorado Springs at a Planned Parenthood center, we are again reminded of the power of one person to inflict death and injury via an easily obtained high-powered weapon. Guns are the new American way of death, as commonplace as accidental death by automobile.
We are also again reminded of the power of words — to inspire courage, or perseverance — or in this case, murder. We are well aware, as a media entity that puts thousands of words into the public discourse each week via the printed page and the Internet, that words have consequences. Words shape the perception of our city and our country.
Those in advertising also understand the power of words to entice consumption and shape public opinion toward a product. Likewise, those who are in public office— or running for public office — are quite aware of how words can win minds and influence the voting public.
But words have consequences. Ideas can move people to action. Knowing this, it behooves anyone with a public forum and public influence to choose words wisely. Buddha wrote that "words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace."
Throughout history, leaders have used words to inspire action — evil action, in the case of Hitler, for example; good works in the case of Mother Teresa. So when candidates for high office call a woman's legal right to abortion "murder," when they falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of "selling body parts," and when they create bloody horror-movie fantasies in nationally televised debates, as Carly Fiorina did recently, they shouldn't be surprised when people who buy their heated rhetoric take bloody action.
Three innocent people are now dead in Colorado, one of them a devoutly Christian law-enforcement officer and father, killed while protecting helpless people from a deranged man intent on stopping the "selling of body parts."
The purveyors of heated anti-abortion rhetoric — Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Fiorina, and others — have spent the past few days denying that their words had anything to do with the actions of Robert Lewis Dear. Those words are as empty as their souls.
Where are their demands for all Christians to denounce the actions of a Christianist terrorist? Where are the demands that we investigate the plague of gun violence by demented white loners? Where are the demands by outraged politicians and candidates that we "round up" these evil doers and give them ID cards? Unlike the theoretical dangers of Syrian refugees, our violent terrorists are all too real, their acts of bloodshed all too common.
The Bible says, "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind." Too often, these days, we're all reaping the whirlwinds spawned by American demagogues.