more than words.

I’ve always used words to describe how I feel. Writing helps me process. It helps me move forward while still looking back.

Right now I don’t think there’s anything I can write to appropriately express how I feel following the recent tragedy in Tucson. Sometimes words just can’t dignify the magnitude or gravity of a situation. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel right to try.

Instead of making a personal interpretation about any of this, here are some of the most poignant statements made by President Obama in Tucson today. Words I hope to always remember.

“Heroism does not require special training or physical strength. Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned.”

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

“Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.”

“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.”

“I believe we can be better.”


3 thoughts on “more than words.

  1. Jess, thank you for summarizing some of the President’s messages for us to read. I was very emotional listening to his remarks last night and I’m sure I didn’t hear and register much of what he messaged. I was disappointed I was unable to be there in person last night. I am finding his thoughts to be both sobering and uplifting as I continue to struggle with all of this. I knew and worked on a project with Gabe Zimmerman and I know his mother Emily. I also worked with Ron Barber who thankfully is recovering. Gabby is a dear and special friend. Last summer, Barbara and I attended one of her backyard fundraisers. Her Tea Party opponent, Jesse Kelly, had been employing horrible political ads to defame her character as well as her record. Gabby was agonizing over the realization that her determination not to counter Kelly’s ads with negative ads of her own would cost her the election. Sadly and reluctantly, she followed her advisers and resorted to mildly negative ads which enabled her to win and retain her seat in Congress.

  2. A wonderful post about such a troubling and sad event. President’s speech was so great. Now if only people would read the text of his speech every day to keep his points in mind.

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