Elijah Friedeman, The Millennial Perspective
President Barack Obama gave his speech last night on the Arizona shootings. I wasn't able to watch the speech live, but I've read the transcript. Obama hit it out of the ballpark. Instead of giving in to the temptation to cast blame on Republicans or Teapartiers - not an unreasonable scenario since Clinton did much the same thing after the Oklahoma City Bombings - Obama called for unity and a stop to the finger-pointing.
Here is the important part of the speech when the President calls for an end to the blame game and asks for healing. Obama also makes clear here that no one knows exactly why the shooter (I'm no longer going to use his name) went on a rampage.
But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -- at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do -- it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "When I looked for light, then came darkness." Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.
For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. That we cannot do.
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's 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 that our hopes and dreams are bound together.
One of the wonderful, emotionally-captivating moments in the speech came when Obama diverged from his prepared remarks and delivered the news that Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes. I didn't hear Obama give these lines, but I got chill bumps as I read them.
I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak. And I want to tell you -- her husband Mark is here and he allows me to share this with you -- right after we went to visit, a few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues in Congress were in the room, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time. Gabby opened her eyes for the first time.
Gabby opened her eyes. Gabby opened her eyes, so I can tell you she knows we are here. She knows we love her. And she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey. We are there for her.
It's rare that conservative pundits will give Obama kudos for a speech, but the consensus is virtually unanimous: Obama did a great job. You can watch the whole speech below.