Friday, January 14, 2011

Project 365 - Reflection as a Nation Mourns

"...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 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 our hopes and dreams are bound together.

After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected.  We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward.  We reflect on the past.  Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.  Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us?  Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?

So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.  We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.  Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children or our community, and whether our priorities are in order.  We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth or status or power or fame, but rather, how well we have loved and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others..."

Barack Obama
January 12, 2011
Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona