Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Tragedy in Tucson

As with the rest of the nation I was heartbroken about the events which took place Saturday, January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. Senseless killings of such promising lives. A 9 year old girl who was so exceptional in many ways – gone – never to have the chance to share her many gifts with the world. There was the 30 year old staffer who gave his life in service to the democracy he loved. There was the judge who by all accounts was a very thoughtful man guided by a deep faith which he practiced beautifully. Then a husband gave his life to protect his wife. And 2 other women so loved by their family. And of course there is Gabrielle Giffords – where this nation is sending heartfelt prayers for a miraculous recovery. She is an incredible human being who believes so much in upholding democracy – a dedicated congresswoman who wanted to meet with her constituency as she always does. Saturday was truly a tragedy and yet I have also been touched by such heroism.

People are asking is there anything we can learn from the events which took place on Saturday. As a clinical psychologist who works with trauma victims I can’t help but to go over the events of that day. And what about the killer? What motivated him to act out in such vengeful ways? It is so easy to be outraged by his actions. The harder thought to swallow is that everyone that day was a victim and that as a society we have a responsibility to make sure that something like this never happens again. Yes, what the killer did was horrific and he needs to be held accountable for his actions – and he will. we also need to ask ourselves how have we failed as a society to help those so called “lone wolves” who show signs of mental distress which go unheeded. Jared Lougner was described by many as a disturbed youth but nowhere was there a report that anyone cared enough to stop and get him the help he needed long before Saturday’s tragedy. What does that say about us? We are so quick to say anything that comes to mind and call them facts when what we are really doing is making noise defending our position about something at the expense of others. After all talk is really cheap these days and few seem to care about the power of their words and the harmful effects it may have on others. What has happened to our emotional maturity? It seems to me it is going down the tubes. I even begin to wonder if we value civility any more.

This brings me to my last point about healing. So much healing is necessary because of the tragedy that took place on Saturday. We need to grieve for the senseless deaths of all those beautiful people. We also need to grieve for what happened to Gabrielle Giffords and all those who were injured. And what about the killer? He too needs to be included in the healing circle. Can we open our hearts enough to ask the question – why him – what has happened in this mans life that has created so much pain which contributed to his acting out where he was filled with so much hatred that he had to take other people’s lives. Only a twisted mind can create such carnage. Can we learn to forgive so we don’t add to the hatred in this world? Can we learn to forgive and do something positive, something healing so all those lives that were lost and all those who are dealing with agonizing pain will not have suffered in vain. If we can open our hearts to having a little willingness to forgive then perhaps we can be part of the solution and not the problem. And if we can begin to think a bit about forgiveness in our own personal lives and grow in understanding and compassion then we may have begun to take the important steps in healing our society and possibly the world.