"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’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.
After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose somebody in our family -– especially if the loss is unexpected. We’re shaken out of our routines. We’re forced to look inward. We reflect on the past: Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices that they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in a while but every single day?
So sudden loss causes us to look backward -– but it also forces us to look forward; to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.
We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we're doing right by our children, or our community, whether our priorities are in order.
We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved -- and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.
And that process -- that process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions –- that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires...
...If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate -- as it should -- let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember 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 the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud...
...They believed -- they believed, and I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here –- they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us.
And 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."
--President Barack Obama in his Remarks on the Tucson Tragedy
I wasn't planning on watching the memorial service tonight. I came home from work early with a horrible migraine and planned to just go to bed... But I woke up shortly before the memorial service began. The TV was on in the background and I heard the speech begin...
Once again, our President has made me proud. This wasn't a bland "pray for these good people and God bless America" speech. This wasn't a continuation of the obsurd finger-pointing that's been going on. This was a speech given by a man who is connected to this situation emotionally - because he chooses to be. Watching Michelle Obama holding Gabby Giffords' husband's hand and shedding tears with him through the speech - they are connected to these victims and their families.
What could have been a bland presidential service turned into a rally. An appreciation of those who gave their lives and those who jumped into save lives. Our President gave credit, gave blessings, gave direction, and gave hope - as he is so good at it!
I teared up many times throughout the speech - at mentions of Gabby and the little girl that died, Christina; but also at his guidance in how we live our lives. America can be a better place - if only each one of us will vow to live better lives. Treat others better. Think about what we say before we say - or type - it. Be respectful and dignified in our discussions. Show compassion to ALL, not just those we think deserve it.
Thank you, President Obama, for your reminder that we have hope - and we all have a role in making that hope a reality.
Things I am thankful for today:
1. The song "Free" by Donovan Frankenreiter.
2. Workouts getting easier.
3. Light vanilla soy milk - makes Rice Krispies taste good!
4. The start of a productive day at work.
5. Penny's concern when I wasn't feeling well.
6. Talking with nurses and my doctor on the phone - a wonderful help.
7. The hubby leaving work early to take me home.
8. Hot showers.
10. A compassionate President.