Last night the President addressed the country from the McKale Center on the University of Arizona’s campus in response to Saturday’s shooting at a meet-and-greet event held by Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.
… But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. 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 us 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 our hopes and dreams are bound together.
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 are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and 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 bettering the lives of others.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
President Obama reminded us that it’s okay to disagree with each other, but while we do that, we should be respectful of one another.
The President reminded us that we are united in our hopes and dreams, in our mortality, and in our love for each other and our desire to make the American dream a reality for the generations that come after us.
No matter how you show your love, make sure you take some extra time today to show the people that are dear to you that you care for them. Don’t forget to do it tomorrow, the day after, next week, and into the future.
Make the time today to make your community a little more loving. If we make the commitment to love just a little bit more, imagine the community we could build.
The full text of the President’s speech available is available here.