Can anything be learned from a senseless act?

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Tuesday, Jan 11,  Welton on the Rachel Maddow Show to talk about the Nation's response to the Tucson shooting.

Wednesday, Jan 13, Welton shares his thoughts on the Tucson Memorial with Rachel Maddow

Dear Friends,

The tragic shooting in Arizona on Saturday has dominated my thoughts and prayers over the last few days as I am sure it has yours. I pray for Representative Giffords who survived this event against unspeakable odds. I mourn with the families who lost loved ones. And, I ache with concerns for our nation.

Once again, in the hours and days since the shooting, we have seen evidence of how our great nation can come together in moments of tragedy. Of course, there is also the noise of those who respond to this horrendous situation with arguments and harsh rhetoric rather than with empathy, reason, and a promised resolve to take this moment to improve our life together. They must not prevail.

Finding meaning and hopeful expectations in such a disturbing moment is almost impossible. But, perhaps, something good is resident in signs of a developing national conversation about the tone, vocabulary, and tenor of our national debate. We don’t know what motivated the violence perpetrated by the shooter in Tucson, and we may never know. But, there is no question about the fact that this particular national conversation is long past due.

Spirited and passionate debate is the substance of the oil that makes the machinery of our democracy work smoothly. Such debate between competing points of view engages us, it focuses our attention on the issues of the day, and it opens our eyes and moves us forward. Where we have veered off course is in the personal attacks and extreme rhetoric that have become too common of late. We simply have to find a way to advocate for what we think is right and still be able to look at those who disagree with us and say “I know we don’t agree, but I know you love this country as much as I do and want to ensure we all have the right to express our opinion civilly and productively.”

I know we at the Interfaith Alliance have not always been perfect in this regard. No one has. But I sincerely hope that we have been right more than we have been wrong. I can assure you that never have we issued a statement or launched an initiative aimed at further dividing our nation or demonizing an individual. You have my promise that we will redouble our efforts to do even better in promoting the healing role of religion and challenging all who would seek to manipulate religion for other purposes. Through our work, and always with your help, we intend to improve our national dialogue so as to claim the full potential of our democracy.

Welton Gaddy

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy