The Year of Living Anxiously -UPDATED

My Tuesday column at First Things is up. The year is hardly begun and already it seems like it will be an anxious one. Here I take a look at the anxieties born of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of six others:

As you read this, those six human beings–mostly anonymous to the world but beloved of their families and friends–are being grieved, waked, remembered, mourned, celebrated and interred. They were murdered at a shopping center, on January 8 by an incoherent, mentally ill young man who was somehow able to get hands on a gun.

With the exception of Zimmerman and Green, the dead were senior citizens. Had they not been killed, it is likely that a couple of them would have lived long enough to observe the nation enter into serious discussion about what will be the defining issue of the new decade: the value of human life when it is “advanced” in age, imperfect in form, and too expensive to justify on the healthcare spread sheets. They are now past wondering if the lives they had, and wished to keep, would pass cost-analysis muster. In the language of the most-compassionate among us, they—and their families—have been “spared” those “quality of life” anxieties.

Zimmerman had just entered the ripest years of adulthood–the time when adolescent dreaming has been dashed upon the rocks of practicality; first-strivings have mercifully passed, and one is finally getting a sense of self, where one fits in, and what is still possible. His was an age of dreams re-defined, then refined. As an aide to Gabrielle Giffords, a congresswoman who–by all accounts–is liked and respected by her D.C. colleagues, Zimmerman could justly envision a future full of promise–one protected from most downturns, economic or electoral, thanks to the useful connections gathered during meetings, or purposeful strolls through the halls of the capital building. The pre-empting of all of that promise is grievous. And doubtlessly for the hundreds of thirty-ish political aides working in federal buildings and state capitals–those whom we called “young guns” before last weekend–Green’s violent death has produced a life-quality-impacting anxiety from which they and their families cannot be spared, but which over time will wane.

Please read the rest here

Also, check out Tim Dalrymple’s: Loughner Belonged to the Insane Party:

Although Americans are inclined to locate everyone on the Left-to-Right polarity, some people are simply off the grid. Loughner is no more a conservative for opposing the American government than Osama bin Laden is a liberal for hating Bush.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is looking at polls indicating the public is not buying the mainstream construct. We’ll see.

Margaret Cabaniss at Inside Catholic: Understanding Evil.

About Elizabeth Scalia