Tucson, Arizona, is one of my favorite cities. I like it because it is the home of Carl Joseph Seat Daoust (3), my grandson, as well as his mother, my daughter Karen, and her husband Rob.
For quite some time Karen has been a big admirer of Gabrielle Giffords, who is just twenty days older than her and the U.S. Representative for the district where she previously lived. On January 12, Karen stood in line for hours and attended the “Together We Thrive” memorial service held at the McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus where she is a professor.
What a shock it was when I heard about the Tucson tragedy! Thankfully, Rep. Giffords is steadily recovering, but six others were killed in the senseless shooting. And the “talking heads” of the nation have made charges and counter-charges about the political climate lying behind the acts of the killer. But who knows why he did what he did.
It is hard to think his act was not related to politics, though, as his primary target was the Congresswoman. And she was a representative who was severely criticized by some people in Tucson because of her vote for the health care legislation last March. In fact, a few hours after that vote, her Tucson office was vandalized.
A few days later she said on a TV interview, “…we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, the way she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district. And when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”
The sheriff of Pima County, where Tucson is located, echoed those words after the shooting. He said, “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.” He went on to declare, “That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”
In his moving speech at the Jan. 12 memorial service, President Obama rightly said that “we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.” And then he implored, “Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.”
The President went on to say, “I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.” I would like to think that is true. If it is, not only can Tucson thrive, but so can the whole nation.
Let’s use the tragedy of Tucson as a spur toward greater civility in all our speech, toward more respect even for those who strongly disagree with us, and toward enhanced decency and generosity of spirit in all our relationships.