I really struggled to write today’s post. This was a very difficult weekend for many of us. The tragic events of Saturday morning left a beloved public servant very seriously injured, took the life of a respected Federal judge, and abruptly and cruelly ended the life of five more innocents. Not to mention all those who were injured, all those who were terrified, and all the family and friends who were left at home clinging to each other, fearing for the worst and hoping for the best.
I was one of the ones who sat by my radio for hours, heartbroken, and listened to the events unfold. As the news came trickling in and events unfolded, the Twitterverse, Facebook, and my email inbox began to fill with anger, fear, and more anger. Accusations flew — the Tea Party did it! Sarah Palin is to blame! — and my heart broke even further.
It’s normal to feel anger when faced with a national tragedy like this one. It was so cruel, so unjust, so senseless. I’m angry too. But we don’t gain anything by feeding the very fires of hate that cause a tragedy like this one. As long as we continue to talk about us vs. them, to denigrate people who don’t share our political views, we feed the fire. And on Saturday after the shooting the fires of hate were raging.
At the same time, there was a very beautiful scene unfolding in Tucson and across Arizona. Individuals started to come together to support each other, to wipe tears, to plan vigils, to commemorate and remember and love. Sunday the lines were hours long at the Red Cross donation stations. Churches and synagogues brought their communities together in prayer. Facebook profile pictures have been changed in honor of Rep. Giffords and the other victims.
Even while Sheriff Dupnik accused Arizona of being a mecca for prejudice and bigotry, the outpouring of love and support from the community was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Because Sheriff Dupnik was wrong. Yes, Arizona has seen some tough political times recently. But that is only because too many of us have lost track of one fundamental truth: WE are Arizona — all of us together. We share a love of our saguaros, of our purple mountains, our buildings painted in outrageous colors, and Sonoran hot dogs. And like people everywhere we wake up in the morning, try to make a better life for ourselves and our families, and go to bed ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
Today, as the news continues to be flooded with pictures of Gabby Giffords, and we learn more about the motivations behind Mr. Loughner’s actions, I urge you to turn away from your anger and accusations. I urge you to remember that we are all Arizonans first, and that we are Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, and Liberals, second.
P.S. Please give blood. Our emergency services were able to meet the needs for blood during Saturday’s tragedy because people had given ahead of time. You can help replenish the supplies and to keep the blood banks well stocked by giving now and in the future. http://ht.ly/3ABgv If you cannot give blood, please consider donating in other ways.