Roughly an hour ago, President Obama delivered a poignant speech in front of thousands of mourners at the McKale Center here in Tucson, Arizona. In times of grief, we look to our leaders for comfort, to sympathize with our losses and to assure us that all is not lost. Disagree as we may with President Obama’s policy decisions, his speech tonight was a message of solidarity and one that exuded both sorrow and hope.
While mostly composed, President Obama painted a portrait for each the victims that fell at the hands of Jared Lee Loughner. And with a humble demeanor, he acknowledged the open uncertainty precipitating this tragedy. “For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack.” He continued, “none of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.”
Immediately thereafter, President Obama also chided the division and finger-pointing plainly evident since Saturday. He explained, “but what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”
The wounds inflicted by Loughner will not heal overnight and some scars will forever remain. But these scars borne by the families and remembered by the nation are still part of that fabric of American exceptionalism. Through these times we must never forget that, “the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”
Well said Mr. President.
Note: The full text of President Obama’s speech can be found here.