When a gunman took aim at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, critically wounding her and and taking the lives of six people, he shattered lives and created fear, confusion and pain for all Americans. These people were assembled with their fellow citizens taking part in “Congress At Your Corner”, Rep. Gifford’s name for her interpretation of the very fabric of democracy, people coming together to hear their representatives, air their concerns, and practice their right to free speech.
All American’s felt this horrific blow and empathized with the families who experienced the violence first hand, The nation as a whole, each of us shocked, upset, sympathizing with those who were wounded and those who died that day and their familes who suffered their loss. It was a national day of shock and despair.
Finding Sense in Senseless Acts
After the shootings, one of my dear friends called and asked, “What can “we” do? I didn’t have an answer. I could only say, “We need to hold each other close and care for those around us.” The answer didn’t seem to resonate with her. She said “Yes, but what can we do now, we need to do something right now.”
Hearing my words echo in my head they sounded so very shallow to me.
Then, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu came to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco just last week and said:“We are all agents of transfiguration,” “Go forth and transform your personal relationships, your community, your world, so it becomes hospitable to joy, to justice, to freedom, to peace.”
And then, I heard a quote from columnist, Mark Shields on PBS – America’s equivalent of the BBC.
“This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African American President.”
We all have a voice
…and then, I read about Desmond Tutu’s daughter Naomi Tutu who grew up in racially segregated South Africa and educated in Swaziland, the United States and England:
“I talk about the opportunities being my parents’ daughter has presented,” she said. “I do not see myself following in my father’s footsteps. I see myself walking through doors my father opened. I am trying to open another door, or at least a window, for someone else. My place in the world is my place in the world. My voice is my voice. I don’t talk about color-blind society,” she said. “I talk about a society that celebrates our differences and uses our differences as a gift.”
Naomi Tutu, believes that the healing process starts with the simple act of listening. Listening to those people who you think of as “them”
“When you refuse to hear someone’s story is when you see a person just as a member of a group, and you label them as “the other”. “And when you label people as members of a group, you are able to oppress them.”
So perhaps it is that simple, listen, begin at home, talk to your neighbors, make friends with “one and another”
And through something as simple as that you are doing your part to change the world.