Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tonight's Memorial Service

The memorial service was held tonight in Tucson in the wake of Saturday's terrible shootings. The "pep rally" atmosphere of the event seemed awkward, though maybe after a time of sadness, the people there were trying to express hope.

President Obama spoke and, to his credit, rejected the frenzy of blame engaged in by some in recent days and hopefully has helped defuse the angry debate that followed the terrible events on Saturday.
But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us 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 our hopes and dreams are bound together.

And later (with a crucial addition that wasn’t in the prepared text in bold):
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, (it did not), but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

Rich Lowry succinctly sums it up here.

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