When these days become a museum exhibit hall centuries from now, what will it say about us? And what will it say about this past Saturday? Was it the start of something terrible? Or of something amazing?
This week we remember those who were killed and wounded in Tucson, Ariz. in an assassination attempt on U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The majority of Americans grieve together. No matter how you view these events, this is a pivotal moment.
The way we deal with our differences is now painfully and urgently laid bare. Arizona has acutely experienced these fractures. Our public discourse is becoming more hateful and intimidating and this has deep consequences for our willingness and ability to participate in community life.
The people at the scene of this horrific crime present a compelling picture of what is at stake.
There were brave ones who lived—a woman who runs a family business grabbed an ammunition clip as it fell to the ground, a retired Army colonel and local resident who wrestled the killer to the ground. And, 20-year-old Congressional intern Daniel Hernandez who rushed to the Congresswoman’s side in the middle of the melee and performed the immediate triage that may have saved her life.
The six who were slain included a highly respected Republican judge who stopped at the Safeway after Mass to talk to the congresswoman, a retired construction worker who was shot while shielding his wife, a church volunteer and grandmother, a conservative Republican activist who had come to share her views, a 30-year-old Tucson staff member of Congresswoman Gifford’s who committed himself to community outreach, and a 9-year-old girl, born on Sept. 11, 2001, who in her short time on this Earth committed herself to participating in our democracy.
Why us, why here, why now?
It would be a dishonor to those who were killed if we didn’t grapple with those fundamental questions. It would deepen the tragedy if fear, anger or division caused any of us to remove ourselves from being active in civic life. We respect and honor them by reinvigorating our commitment to participate fully in our
What will you do in your town to make sure that every one of us—and all of our neighbors—feels safe, welcome and included in this process?
Not In Our Town, Not In Our Country: Stop Hate, Together.
—Patrice O’Neill, Executive Producer, Not In Our Town
- Arizona Public Media
- New York Times, "In Giffords's District, Tension is Not New"
- Video: The Fire Next Time
- New York Times, "Ways to Teach about the Arizona shootings"
- Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance Blog, "Today's Vocabulary Word is 'Vitriol" + PDF download with activities to encourage civil discourse in the classroom
Video from the Washington Post