I’m sure you heard. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot at a campaign meet-and-greet for her constituents in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday morning. Husband and I were driving through rural Indiana, so I didn’t see the news until I used my phone to glance at the news while stopped at a gas station. The first headline I saw was on cnn.com: “Several shot at Tucson grocery.” I mentioned it to Husband right away, with alarm in my voice. We’re both from Tucson and I knew it had to be bad, because Tucson never makes national headlines and it’s not like violent crime is uncommon there.
I gasped when I read that Gabrielle Giffords was among the victims. I started to freak out when I realized the whole thing went down at a political event. And when CNN misreported that Rep. Giffords was dead, the tears came quickly.
I don’t want to make this tragedy about me or my politics. It’s not. It’s about the dedicated public servants, like Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman and U.S. District Judge John Roll, who were are both dead now. It’s about the many civic-minded Arizonians engaging in the political process that morning who were killed and injured. It’s about the bystanders, like nine-year-old Christina Greene, also dead.
The thing is, there’s been a vague fear related to the political rhetoric in this country, and especially in Arizona (“a mecca for prejudice and bigotry”), percolating inside me for a while. It’s scary to know that if we were still living in Tucson, there’s a good chance we would have been there. It’s even scarier to realize that this could happen again, anywhere, especially considering that rather than uniting the country against violence, this tragedy is stirring up both sides of the political spectrum in anger against each other.
My heart goes out to the victims and their families, to Tucson, the city I love more than any other, and even to the state of Arizona, which is will always be home, even if living there made me feel like a stranger in a strange land. I know that we can do better and hope this moves us to do so.