I am Tucson

Soon after hearing about the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the resulting murder of six and injury of 14, I immediately knew that I wanted to blog this week on the tragedy.  The struggle, though, has been to figure out the best way to blog about the heartbreaking subject matter.

At first I wanted to take a more political stance, quick like so many to assume a connection to the violent political rhetoric of our time.  But others had said it better:

Plus, the message needed to be so much bigger.

Then I was inclined to write about those whose lives were taken, profiling the lives lost.  Others had done such an eloquent job, though.

Then I considered writing of the heroes who stopped the shooter before he could inflict worse damage (including the amazing elderly woman who wrestled the second clip out of the gunman’s hand) or the hero that is credited with saving Gabrielle Giffords’ life.

None of these felt right, though.  What could I honestly contribute to the din of stories, arguments, blaming, and honoring that already fills the internet on this subject?

In thinking over this tragedy, though, I can’t help but think about the work that I do.  Every time I speak, the core of my message comes down to relationships, to tearing down the walls that divide us from those with whom we can learn, collaborate, cooperate, and share.  It’s hard to say whether such relationships could have prevented this tragedy, but for me, one thing is clear as we wipe the tears from our eyes and look to move forward.

For many months now, I have had a sour taste in my mouth whenever I think of Arizona and its politics.  After all, I am pretty disgusted with SB1070, a bill that gives law enforcement sweeping power with regards to immigration status that opens the door for overt racism.  In thinking about my friends that live in the state, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How can you bear to live in that horrible place?”

I realize now, though, that we need to transcend those artificial barriers.  In talking with my friend and business manager Eric, who lives in Tucson, I realize that my perception of Tucson or my perception of Arizona is not only inaccurate but is building a wall between myself and those in that state that are working for justice.  I hear the stories of those who are hurting and those who are banding together to support the families of the fallen, and I realize that the walls between us cannot stand.

Undoubtedly I am going to disagree with you.  Undoubtedly I am going to be frustrated in our disagreement.  Undoubtedly our paths will diverge at one time or another, but in the end, we are brothers and sisters in this human struggle for a better world.

No longer can we afford to hide behind barbed rhetoric or push each other away.  I know from experience that there will be hurdles that seem impossible to overcome as we try to build a better world, and there will be disagreements that seem insurmountable.  In the end, though, no matter how furious, no matter how frustrated, no matter how distant we feel as we discuss, argue, and debate our differences (whether political, racial, or otherwise), we must find the strength to reach across the difference.  We must take the hands of those with whom we differ and build a discourse of respect.

I am not different from those in Arizona.  I am not different from those in Tucson.  In all of this, we are hurting . . . no matter where we fall on the political spectrum, no matter where we live.  In all of this, we have the power to change the world in which we live.

As cheesy as it sounds, we need to realize that we are all one.  We are all connected.

As Tucson wrestles with why, as Tucson grapples with pain, as Tucson begins to heal, I am Tucson.

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