“We are not the blue states of America, or the red states of America, we are the United States of America” – IL State Senator Barack Obama, 2004
Over the past 48 hours all of us have been reminded of the great irony of life — and that is this: we all know the approximate day and hour of our birth, but none of us can understand or explain the seeming randomness of death. Of the many things we may disagree on as Republicans, Democrats, male, female, black or white; one thing for certain that we share is death.
The tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (who thankfully is still clinging to life), and the death of her district manager, a 9-year old little girl, a federal judge and others is a stark reminder of what we learned from 9/11, Columbine, Virgina Tech, Oklahoma City, the Ft. Hood shootings and other infamous disasters. As President John F. Kennedy once said, “we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
It is times like this that truly try our souls and it is at moments such as these that we look to our leaders. President Obama has an opportunity here to truly bring us together as a nation. He has begun to do that already by calling for a national moment of silence today at 11 am (EST) throughout our nation in honor of the shooting victims in Arizona. I am not talking about making great speeches or TV appearances. We need our president to lead by example, use his bully pulpit and help us to come out of this dark political abyss of heated speech and rhetoric that is threatening the very greatness of this republic.
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF THE WHITE HOUSE’S RESPONSE TO THE AZ SHOOTING:
Something has gone awry in America. We all feel and we see it around us. Some of our fellow citizens are isolated, hungry, broken, lost and filled with anger. Sadly, we the people are no longer a village of caring citizens who love our neighbors as ourselves. We adhere to no boundaries of decency and civility in our public life. The other person with who we spar in the political arena is not just regarded as an opponent, but as an enemy. As someone to be vilified, attacked, and destroyed with our words. Both sides are guilty of this my fellow Americans. None of us has clean hands here and we would all do well to remember that truth.
In his state of the Union speech in two weeks, at the start of a new Congress, and a new year, it is my hope and prayer that the Barack Obama who first appeared on the national stage in 2004 at John Kerry’s nominating convention and reminded us that we are not the “blue states of America, or the red states of America, but the United States of America” is the one who will lead us out of the “disconnectedness” so many of our fellow citizens feel.
The president is a good man. He is a man who knows what it is like to lose his mother to that villain named cancer. A man who is the father of a 9-year-old little girl, much like Christina Green who lost her life on Saturday to a cruel bullet wound to her small chest. I have no doubt that after the unspeakable horror of Saturday that the president got up out of his bed late that night and went to watch his daughters sleep. Thanking God that they were safe and sound as did many fathers across America.
In the final analysis, no matter what we may believe politically or yell to the top of our lungs fighting for passionately, the greatness of this nation has always been in its core values of freedom and liberty. We are all Americans. When one of us is hurt, all of us is hurt. Therefore, let us stop the name calling and blame game and truly consider this sad moment and commit ourselves to loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.