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The annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity is a bipartisan, bicameral contest between Republican and Democratic teams. Each side diligently practices for weeks, but it is far from toil (though the aging athlete’s aching muscles indicate otherwise). For the participants, it is an idyllic nostalgia trip that swaps the cut and thrust of the political arena for a bat and mitt on the field of dreams—one that today a gunman has turned into a scene of nightmarish violence.
Per initial reports, just past 7 a.m., as nearby a resident walked his dog, people exercised at the local YMCA and children headed for school, a man approached Eugene Simpson Stadium Park. He raised a rifle and fired “50 to 60 shots” at the assembled Republicans, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a House staffer, and two police officers. The injuries are said to be “not life-threatening.” Thankfully, the Capitol Police prevented more grievous and extensive bloodshed by killing the gunman, James Hodgkinson, as he continued his rampage. His motive remains officially unknown.
What the courageous Capitol Police or anyone could not prevent was the rampant speculation as to the gunman’s motive or the ensuing promoting of various causes however vicariously related to the attack. Inveterately, all of these responses are viewed through the speculator’s subjective political prism. Given the victims are all involved in the political process, some may excuse such conjecture and exhortations. This attack is not novel in the politicized responses it has elicited.
Yet, the more political the statement, the less logical the statement. The less logical the discourse, the more disordered our souls. The more disordered our souls, the more chaotic the age. Thus does our blindness to the verity that politics is a part of life and not life itself anesthetize and blind us to the true suffering of our fellow human beings inherent in such hideous acts of violence; and, thereby, exacerbate and accelerate this Chaotic Age.
Having participated in the Congressional Baseball game in the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent heinous shooting of our colleague, the Hon. Gabrielle Giffords, it was my impression that the ballplayers knew such an attack could happen but thought it never would.
Cynics notwithstanding, elected officials’ illusory sense of security is not due to a belief they, unlike the citizens they serve, are above and beyond the insidious reach of such threats in this Chaotic Age. No, like millions of Americans, they were rapt in the unexpected chance to escape the numbing embrace of politics; play ball; and, if only for a moment, allow the national pastime to rekindle fond memories of their past lives, when the world was full of promise, possibility, purpose, and dreams.
And made sense.
In light of Wednesday’s attack and politicized responses, we as a free people feel society further slipping beyond reason and into escalating chaos. But nothing is fated for a free people. At any time, love, wisdom and compassion are within our reach, if we have the courage but to grasp. Uneasily and agonizingly slowly, we will.
Let it commence with the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity’s post-game gathering, during which elected officials and their staffs engage not as mutually reviled partisans, but as equally respected competitors celebrating a good deed done for their deserving fellow Americans. Especially as this year’s game was also being held to honor the victims of the Manchester and London terrorist attacks, nothing is more apt or urgent than that, out of baseball’s hope and bloodshed’s horror, we may all unite to reaffirm our shared, frail humanity; the sanctity and beauty of life; and the will to recapture the sanity required to tame this Chaotic Age.
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