This is hard.

Every Saturday morning for several months now, I could be found, precisely at 10am, at the corner of Ina and Oracle in Tucson, having just dropped my daughter off at tennis.

Until two weekends ago, when as luck would have it, she got her license and her sister was willing to go with her so I could stay in my pj's and drink coffee and relax. Well, that first Saturday anyway.

This last one not so much. About 10:30am my mother called. "Did you hear the news?" she asked. "Noooo..." I replied.  "Gabby's been shot in the head," she continued rapidly, " at the Safeway at Ina and Oracle."As my heart sank through my stomach, she went on to say it was at point blank range, the shooter had run off after firing a bunch more. That's when my maternal alarm went off. The girls were just down the road from that now infamous corner playing tennis and a madman was loose. I quickly searched the internet for information, but it was hard to find. Very hard. The news had gone out, but somehow each page was "unavailable".

But I found what I needed. The gunman was in custody, but as many as 12 had been shot. That number nows stands at 20. For those who have lived through this kind of thing, you'll understand when I say it makes your heart sick. Literally.

My girls made it home safe and sound, but not without a few panicked texts and calls along the way. Months ago I blogged about leaving this place. This State of Anger. That it was too much to live in an environment filled with hostility from both the Right and the Left. The wild wild west was thriving. And somewhere deep inside I knew it would blow.

And so it did. On a beautiful lazy Saturday morning, a disturbed young man decided, for whatever reason, to wreak havoc in our peaceful town. Was it just his anger at a Congresswoman? Anger at the world? Was he railing against injustice, real or imagined? We may never know.

Nor will we ever know for sure whether the palpitating anger so widespread in our community played a role. Did the horrific tone of the political rhetoric reach poisonous levels? Did they actually have any influence on this young man's decision to take innocent lives in one mass mowdown? Did our tacit acceptance of the vitriol of the talking heads make it an acceptable form of communication? Did we somehow authenticate it as journalism?

Is the blood of that precious 9-year old girl on our hands? Yes. It is. We let this happen. Knowingly or unknowingly, we let freedom of speech exist without the requisite responsibility for the consequences.

When I remarked that the pundits on the right...AND...the left... were responsible for whatever impact their words may have had on the tenor of the political debate, and on impressionable, disturbed young men with guns...I was told I should not say such things. To stop blaming Fox News. And not even Gabrielle Giffords herself would agree with me. The fact is, she would and did. 

What happened here has happened before, across our nation, if you simply view it as a tragic event in which a senseless crime took place. But if you look deeper, you will see there was much more here. There was a perfect storm. Highly charged political issues all converging. Health Care. Crime. Immigration. Education. Gun Control. And one lone Mentally Ill man on a mission. If all this had been discussed calmly and rationally in public forums and journalists reported these events minus the commentary and perhaps ordinary citizens were allowed the freedom to pose their ideas and concerns without fear of being targeted as a terrorist or a communist or a socialist or hell, even an alien publicist.

So next time you find yourself debating a hot political issue, try lowering your voice, taking deep breaths, and if the person your conversing with truly is a moron, try walking away. Turn off Fox News. Turn off MSNBC. Turn off the voices in your head for just a moment.

Clear all the bugs out and go take a walk in the sun or the snow. Help an elderly neighbor shovel their driveway. Help a younger neighbor with their homework. Do something that contributes to your community, not divides it. Do something that undoubtedly pays it forward.

That's what Christina Taylor Green would want. And Judge Roll. Gabe Zimmerman. Dorwin Stoddard. Phyllis Schneck. And Dorothy Morris.


That's what the other victims, still fighting for their lives, will want. And that is most definitely what Gabby Giffords wants. And, if miracles do happen, she'll tell us that herself soon enough.



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