UU blog responses to the Tucson shootings

This issue of the Interdependent Web is limited to responses to the January 8 shootings in Tucson, Arizona.

As we all began to learn of the terrible violence, ministers began to think and pray about what to do the next day at church. The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum has a brief description of her own process and includes links to a number of other ministers’ sermons and blogs.

My first instinct was to reflect or pray, and so I wrote a prayer. . . . I then spent a great time just absorbing the news, reading articles, watching TV, reading Facebook. I saw there the impact of social media on our ministry, as I saw colleague after colleague posting that they were scrapping their sermons. (“Rev. Cyn,” January 10)

The Rev. Christana Wille McKnight reminds us that everyone shot in Tucson was “an innocent.”

In reading comments posted after one of the articles about the shooting, I noticed several people particularly decrying the death of Christina Taylor Green, a nine year old girl who died from her injuries. “She didn’t do anything” the commentators kept saying “She was innocent”.

While I am beyond horrified at the killing of a nine year old girl — BEYOND HORRIFIED — I am equally as horrified at the people who seem to think that she was the only innocent person who was injured or killed that day. (“Ordinary Days,” January 11)

Civility and communal responsibility

The Rev. Ron Robinson reflects on the need for civility in communities.

Today, in Arizona with the shooting and deaths of public officials and citizens at a public event, we see many problems in our society being magnified in one horrible episode. Certainly, a disturbed individual, but also issues of the spread of weapons, and an attack on the First Amendment rights to gather peacefully and expression opinions. What underlies much of this, and where it happens when churches and mosques and synagogues and temples are attacked, when physicians performing abortions are attacked, etc, is that civility and the ability to disagree without being disagreeable, and to in fact encourage seeking out opposing viewpoints and learning from them, is under attack and has been virtually destroyed. (“The Welcome Table,” January 8)

The Rev. Adam Tierney-Eliot also touches upon communal responsibility.

We all carry some responsibility for the environment we live in. Some of what I see in the political rhetoric is the logical outgrowth of the way we “regular” people treat each other in public and in private. (“Burbania Posts,” January 9)

A violent environment

The Rev. Fred L. Hammond reminds us of our violent history.

If a caricature of Americans were to be drawn, it would depict us as an inherently violent people. We talk peace but our actions are violent. Our history from the earliest days of European settlements all along the eastern seaboard has been one of violence against what we call the other. My own direct ancestors were responsible for the some of the most brutal massacres against the native people in Manhattan; many of them were given in marriage to the European settlers. So even when we were connected by blood relations, our nation’s earliest settlers were spreading the seeds of unbridled violence into our nation’s DNA against the other.

In our 235 year history, we have had peace for only 40 of those years. (“A Unitairian Universalist Minister in the South,” January 9)

The Rev. David Pyle is “shocked that our nation is shocked.”

The question that came to my mind, as I watched media coverage about how shocking this event has been, and as I have heard from friends and colleagues around the world about how shocking the event is… the question in my mind is whether or not they have been paying even cursory attention to what has been happening in our country? The last thing in the world this event should ever be to anyone is shocking or unexpected. (“Celestial Lands,” January 11)

Speaking out

The Rev. Victoria Weinstein wants to be sure anger is acknowledged.

The peace of God, the peace that passeth understanding be with us all.
But not before we’ve been angry, and spoken truth, and confronted evil — and remembered that in a world where all of us are interconnected, there is no such thing as a lone gunman. (“Beauty Tips for Ministers,” January 9. Also see January 10 post)

The Rev. Cynthia P. Cain meditates on spirals and speaking the truth.

I believe we have witnessed the spiral of silence in our own country many times, but perhaps never so destructively as in the past decade. So few people are telling the truth now about war, terrorism, health care, immigration, civil rights, addiction, prisons, drugs, politics, sexual identity, pollution, food, education, and even religion that those who do speak truth are usually excoriated and punished with isolation if not death. It is very hard to find anyone, even a so-called liberal, who is unafraid to speak the truth. (“A Jersey Girl in Kentucky,” January 9)


“uuMomma” writes about “all the pieces” of her heart.

I think forgiveness ought to be in a category such as breathing: we do it not because it is good or right, but because it is necessary. . . .
I am brought back to my favorite line from “The Knight’s Tale,” when William is found out and his friends urge him to run away rather than be sent to the stocks. He turns to Chaucer and asks “would you have me run, then?” and Chaucer says “with all the pieces of my heart.”

It makes me cry every time—and sometimes when I only think of it. We walk around with our hearts in pieces most of the time, I think, by acts of violence on people we don’t know or may never know. Tonight, I am wishing peace to those who seek it, love to those who wish it, and forgiveness to those who require it—with all the pieces of my heart. (“uuMomma,” January 9)

The Rev. Sam Trumbore on grief as the immediate response:

Right now, I’m focused on grieving the loss of life and the injuries that Loughner caused. I’m grieving we live in a world that has weapons that can create this kind of destruction. I grieve whatever happened or didn’t happen as Loughner was growing up to shape him into the kind of person who would commit an act like this. I grieve for Loughner’s family because their lives have just been completely destroyed by his actions. I grieve any amplification of anger of one side against another that this violence may create. (“Rev. Sam Trumbore,” January 9)

The Rev. W. Frederick Wooden writes of how uncomfortable grief makes us.

We’re not good at sadness in America. This is the land of opportunity, optimism, freedom and other happy things. We have the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, as it says in the Declaration of Independence. But when sadness does come, and it must as night follows the day, we Americans have no vessel for holding it, no confidence in its meaning. That’s why when there is a Tucson and a Twin Towers and an Oklahoma City, and a Waco, we look for the quick fix that will end our confusion and sadness. (“Aside from the Obvious,” January 10)

Mental illness

The Rev. Thomas Perchlik urges more and better mental health care.

UU Churches have in our heritage Dorothea Dix. As part of the liberal Christian tradition she decided that love and compassion had to be expressed not just individually but also through our institutions and social structures. When she was a young adult the approach to troubled people was also to hide them away or give them to the police force and prison. Through her life she created the foundations of the mental health care system in our country. Now more change must be made. Good mental health care is expensive, but it is less expensive than the cost of living in a society where angry and frightened people have nothing to do but hurt themselves or pick up a gun and start shooting. (“Rev. Thomas Perchlik’s Weblog,” January 11)

The Rev. Dan Harper thinks everyone needs a time out.

From my perch on the far left of the American political spectrum, I’d have to say that the political rhetoric among both liberals and conservatives has been, and continues to be, uncivil, nasty, threatening, and/or mean-spirited. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I’m in a preschool classroom filled with children who are misbehaving, and who all need a good, long time out. (“Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” January 12)

We don’t—and can’t—know

Joel Monka shares several examples of Democrats engaging in violent rhetoric.

Hmm. This is getting complicated; why don’t we try to find out if Jared Loughner is sane enough to have even had a coherent political stance, then try to sort out whether that stance is left or right from all the conflicting nonsense before we start saying whose rhetoric is to blame? (“CUUMBAYA,” January 10)

Anna Snoeyenbos is reluctant to blame the shooting on “inflamed and violent political rhetoric.”

Did I think that Sarah Palin’s cross hairs map was un-Christian and anti-American? Yes. Could it inspire an act of violence? Perhaps. Did it inspire Jared Loughner last Saturday? I have no idea – and neither do you. (“Deep River,” January 13)

Also posting

Statement by UUA President Peter Morales, January 14
The Rev. Gary Kowalski at Revolutionary Spirits, January 8 and January 9
The Rev. Ron Robinson at “The Welcome Table,” January 8
The Rev. Scott Wells at “Boy in the Bands,” January 9
The Rev. James Ford at “Monkey Mind,” January 9
The Rev. Julianne Lepp at “A Journey of Ministry,” January 9
The Rev. Meg Riley at Church of the Larger Fellowship on Facebook, January 9
The Rev. Colin Bossen at UU Society of Cleveland’s website, January 9
Jacqueline Wolven at “MoxieLife,” January 10
The Rev. Thom Belote at “RevThom,” January 10
The Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, January 10
Amy Peterson Derrick at “UU@Home,” January 11
Deb Weiner at “Morning Stars Rising,” January 11
The Rev. Tony Lorenzen at “Sunflower Chalice,” January 12
The Rev. W. Frederick Wooden at “Aside from the Obvious,” January 13