Friday, January 14, 2011

A Time to Stop and Reflect: Looking at the Tragedy in Tucson

The attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, and the senseless murder of six others, initially left me shocked and angry. I was angry with certain right wing politicians and commentators who have been ratcheting up the rhetoric and using gun metaphors. I said to myself that THEY need to stop and re-think. These are no longer “cutesy catch phrases.” THEY need to take responsibility for the images THEY are promoting. I was also angry with the gun lobbyists and legislators who think that private citizens need to own semi-automatic rifles and assault weapons.That was my initial reaction. Many times at work, I have told people, “there is no need to assign blame, we just need to assess the problem and do our best to correct it.” But here I was, outraged and ready to assign blame.

My friend, Ralph Starling, posted a much more healing response on his blog. He brings some insight as one who has travelled abroad and who works in a multicultural environment. Ralph speaks of the need to look within one's self during crucial times. He also quotes Franciscan priest Richard Rohr who has advocated time spent in quiet contemplation to get a wider view by tapping into what he calls the “Christ consciousness.” You can read Ralph’s excellent advice here.

Then our President offered wise counsel to the nation at the memorial service in Tucson. He cautioned against falling into the blame game, saying that we need to offer words that heal rather than divide, that there is more that unites us than divides us. ‎"In the fleeting time we have on this earth,” President Obama said, “ what matters is not wealth or status or power or fame, but rather how much we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better."

The President also made reference to the youngest victim of that tragic shooting, the nine year old student council president, and offered these challenging words: “I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us -- we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.”

It is truly a time of grief - not the first time we have known it and surely not the last. May we use this time to step back, rethink and reevaluate. May we use this time to assess what truly matters to our lives as individuals, as communities, and as a nation.


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