There are no words

…to describe my grief and shock over the shooting incident at Congresswoman Giffords’ constituent event over the weekend. Six people dead and a thirteen more wounded. The lives of so many people—family members, friends, the people of Tucson, even the American public—dramatically and irretrievably changed in the briefest moment. Another stain on America’s self-perception.

When these kind of things happen, I am always struck by the happenstance of the moment. What bit of bad fortune was it that brought these people together in this particular time and place? What if the Congresswoman had been called away for an emergency phone call? What if the family who brought young Christina Taylor Green to this gathering had been delayed at a train crossing or by a traffic light? What if the two elderly couples whose respective mates were killed had been traveling in their RVs instead of attending this event?

Yet out of this tragedy there is still opportunity for hope, even for celebration. Hope comes from the reactions and commentary since the shootings. Some are questioning how we identify and subsequently treat people who show signs of mental illness. Others are calling for a return to a civil and respectful dialog in our society. Celebration comes from the fact that the people who attended this gathering were free to be there, free to be practice their democratic rights, free to participate in the give-and-take of our political enterprise.

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