Today certain groups have come to mean a form of sickness, depending on whoís slapping on the label: Pro-Trump, anti-Trump, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims. People are under attack. Itís not just religion, itís political polemics.

The tongue, such a tiny organ, yet capable of setting entire forests on fire.

Talk that convinces (choose your team) that all opposition is evil. Talking heads talking trash 24/7.

Itís all good until it isnít.

Representative Steve Scalise, the U.S. House Majority Whip, was shot, along with others, by a deranged gunman, lying in wait for Republicans at a baseball field in northern Virginia. Scalise was at a baseball practice preparing for the Congressional Ballgame, a long tradition between Republicans and Democrats when rifle fire caught him in the hip, shattering bone and hitting internal organs.

Later, the Congressional Ballgame went forward to honor Scalise and others injured. It was a symbolic show of unity between political parties.

When the Congressional Ballgame opened, the Star Spangled Banner never sounded more urgent, more important, calling Americans to rise above divisiveness and attacks on our democracy.

The shooter, James Hodgkinson, was killed by police. In this instance, it was an American shooting American leaders. His motives cannot be proved, but prior to the shooting he asked if Republicans or Democrats were at the baseball practice.

I assume extreme political ideology may have played a part, perhaps social alienation and frustration, too. Sometimes it feels like one and the same.

One thing is certain. Hearing the demonization of others is commonplace, on all sides, on all fronts. Therein lies destruction. There are too many unbalanced people with weapons who believe they are taking down the enemy.

Free speech should remain free always. Protest is a strong part of the American fabric. Yet letís take responsibility for what we say. ďAll things are permissible, but not all things are helpful.Ē (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Anotherís humanity is reduced whenever we hear, ďTheyíre all like that.Ē Does what we hear cause us to automatically shut down a possible friendship once we discover someoneís political leanings, their religion, or lack of one? Every time someone is painted as one-dimensional, are we egging on another crazy with a weapon? Extreme? Maybe itís time to consider what is said more seriously.

Each of us is much more than our jobs or our political parties. We are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and people who love our nation. Letís stop affirming judgment by stereotype, and ďplay ball!Ē

ó Email Suzette Standring: suzmar@comcast.net or visit www.readsuzette.com. The award-winning author writes for The Patriot Ledger and is syndicated through GateHouse Media.