January 8th started out like most Saturdays. A quiet morning at home sipping coffee, doing laundry, checking the Twitter feed, a little grocery shopping… but in the middle of this “normal” day, news began to trickle out that a congresswoman in Arizona, along with a federal judge, a 9-year-old child, and more than a dozen other individuals, had been shot at a meet-and-greet outside a Tucson supermarket.
The alleged shooter was a mentally unstable 22-year-old who was wrestled to the ground by witnesses at the scene and held until officers arrived to arrest him. At least six of the individuals shot did not survive. Congresswoman Gifford underwent surgery and remains in critical condition at the time of this writing.
Now you will usually not find any mention of politics here, and please refrain from talking politics in the comments. It’s not that I don’t care. I have strong views politically. I just know that the root of this tragedy goes far deeper than a difference in politics.
If we really want a great nation, we will be great citizens – citizens who don’t use our precious freedom to sit around and argue but to do great things in our communities. Maybe mentoring kids who need support so they don’t turn into the next unstable shooter, or simply expressing our freedoms with character and responsibility without tearing people to shreds with our words and actions. Passion is great, but without restraint it is nothing more than a misguided missile.
Someone in that shooter’s life certainly noticed that his passion was miguided, and either wrote him off or figured he would get help sometime, somewhere. It is true insanity that made Saturday’s horrific act of violence seem like a good idea. Yet our world is filled with such insanity.
I don’t know how you are processing all this madness, but I keep going back to this:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God…” (Romans 8:38-39)
That Love is the one and only permanent, reliable thing I know to stand on. That Love has the power to heal and unite. That Love could have even intervened in that shooter’s messed-up-heart and helped him consider a more healthy expression of his rage. Maybe he would’ve rejected help. Maybe he did. But maybe not. Could one caring individual in his life could have helped point him in the right direction and saved 18 individuals and their families a living hell? Unfortunately, we will never know.
On Monday, January 10, President Obama has declared a moment of silence for the shooting victims at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Join America in praying for the victims, their families and our nation. I will also be praying that Congresswoman Gifford will heal in every way so she can carry on with her life and her work. Whether or not we agree with her politically, she is a human being with whom we might someday share the sidewalk in heaven.
I hope this tragedy in Tucson will unite citizens across our nation to love more, reach out more, serve more, pray more, and build our faith on eternal things that bring us together and make us stronger.