"Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."
I happened to buy tickets for an upcoming performance of "Romeo and Juliet" (the ballet, not the play or the movie) this week, and it got me thinking. I grant you, it's almost too facile to draw comparisons between Capulets v. Montagues and Democrats v. Republicans... but I couldn't help wondering if maybe the tragedy in Tucson might demonstrate to America's two warring camps, for once and for all, how pointless and potentially damaging to the country as a whole their feud is has become. You know; kind of like what happened in Verona.
After all, the parallels are almost too strong to miss. In both cases, two feuding factions under a common government escalate a grudge until a terrible incident brings both sides up short. And just as in the play, our own leader spoke at a memorial service in an effort to provide a grieving populace with some clue about how it might move toward some better way, some saving grace. Unlike Shakespeare's Prince, though, our President did not scream at us, as we perhaps deserved, "A plague on both your houses!"
No; instead, Mr. Obama pointed out that no matter how ugly certain "hunt-'em-down-and-shoot-'em" political imagery has been, it didn't cause the shootings in Tucson. As repugnant as I personally find such imagery, I know he was right. A disturbed gunman was to blame, and that's that.
However, I think the truth we truly need to absorb here is not that blame for such violence lies with any one group's unsavory choice of political "fight" metaphors, but the cold reality of exactly what such metaphors look and feel like when acted out in real life. They look like a hard-working, well-intentioned Congresswoman fighting for her life. They feel like bereaved parents watching their little girl being lowered irrevokably into her grave.
After I heard Mr. Obama's speech (which in my view rose high above the fray and got to the very heart of the matter; i.e., setting the best example possible for each other), I channel-surfed a bit to see how pundits in both camps would react to what he had to say. My mood of hopeful elation evaporated as I realized a Romeo-and-Juliet ending -- Capulets and Montagues linking arms and exiting stage right -- would not be forthcoming any time soon.
I found one camp focused almost entirely on chastising the propagators of cross-hairs-and-bullet-holes imagery and tsk-tsking that this person or that had chosen not to attend the memorial service... and the opposite camp focused on criticizing the memorial service itself and damning with faint praise the President's attempts at offering some balm to a wounded city.
It seemed that following that memorial service in which so many high roads were taken, both sides had the perfect opportunity to lay down arms and at least turn in the direction of a new civility to each other, We The People chose to take another jab.
Chris? Ed? Glenn? Rush? Family? Esteemed Facebook friends?
Is this the best example We The People can bring to America?
What do you figure it would take to get us as a nation to stop bringing plagues on both our houses?