What a Tragedy Can Call Us To Do

By Jim Wallis 1-13-2011

We needed to be called to transcend politics in our response to the shootings in Arizona, lest the politics of our reactions to this tragedy turn us even further against one another. We needed to honor the heroism demonstrated by so many ordinary people during this senseless and evil attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, which killed six people and wounded 14 others. We needed to be called to use their example to find the best in all of us and become better people ourselves. We needed to be called to end the ideological blame and battles that were already distracting us from learning the many lessons of this horrible event. We needed to be called to make our public discourse better.

Barack Obama did all that last night during a memorial service at the University of Arizona for the victims of last Saturday's shooting in Tucson, Arizona. The president delivered a speech that was both presidential and pastoral. His speech was a call to the nation to move to a higher and better place -- to build an America that is worthy of the people who were killed or wounded, or who acted heroically during the tragic shooting. I believe this speech revealed the heart and vision of this president more than any other speech he has delivered in the first two years of his administration. If you haven't read it yet, please do; or better yet, watch it.

You could feel the president's emotions most when he spoke about little Christina Taylor Green, the youngest shooting victim. Many of us parents who were listening felt our own eyes well up when he said, "In Christina, we see all of our children, so curious, so trusting, so energetic, so full of magic, so deserving of our love, and so deserving of our good example.

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