The Skywriter

A 1Sky volunteer speaks out on Tucson tragedy

13
Jan

A 1Sky volunteer speaks out on Tucson tragedy

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I am close to the tragedy in Tucson in several ways. I organized events with Congresswoman Giffords and her staff several times before her election, and lobbied her office for 1Sky last year. Also, my church is a few minutes away from Jared Loughner's home and the shooting site.

At the time of the shooting, I was at a political meeting where Congresswoman Giffords had been scheduled to speak later in the day. We were in the middle of our morning seminars when confusing reports came in through some of our phones. Some said she was dead, along with other confusing and contradictory messages. By the time the chair of the meeting made a clear announcement, there were police all around the meeting, just in case. Many of her closest supporters there broke down completely. I spent the rest of the day watching, waiting and nervously texting with many supporters.

Sunday morning, I attended an eerily appropriate church service previously prepared on civility and graciousness. With additions to reflect the tragedy that affected so many of us directly, it was the beginning of another quite moving day. Visiting the vigil sites and attending a Martin Luther King memorial service that night were about all I could get done that day.

I knew the late Gabe Zimmerman in passing. I am even closer to Ron Barber, one of the survivors, but I didn't know until I heard an announcement Sunday night at a multi-faith service that he was recovering. I had worked closely with him in 2007 to have Congresswoman Giffords be the keynote speaker at a climate change seminar I had organized. She has been a solar power hero since her election and a friend to the the climate change movement.

The whole day was quite frightening, and I'm still mostly in shock, finally grieving some. The most difficult part has been the confusion. I've been to four memorial services already, including last night's memorial at the University of Arizona during which President Obama gave quite a moving speech.

This tragedy is not about partisan politics, nor is my note here. Ancient wisdom asks us to find some good in tragedy. My biggest concern is about our mounting difficulties talking to each other civilly. Hopefully, some semblance of civility will return to our politics (including climate change) as a result of this tragedy. I will continue to stand on the side of love, for everyone involved, and to hope that we will all practice civility toward all, especially those most different from us.

The author is a Tucson resident and volunteer organizer for 1Sky in Arizona.
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