A Shooting in Arizona

It was deeply saddening to read the news that Representative, Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and 18 others were shot Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire outside a supermarket where Ms. Giffords was meeting with constituents.

The sadness extends to many fronts.  While the motive of the gunman at this time remains unclear, the incident will stir what could be a critical debate on how we hold disagreements in this nation.  That conversation will be accentuated if in the end the gunman’s motives were political.

I am not a fan of conspiracy theory. I do believe in open dialog. I believe that at times that dialog can be and maybe needs to be critical.  And there are lines. This type of assault on an elected official cleared crossed a line that is beyond unacceptable.

As a Pastor, I am very uneasy with conspiracy theories from the right or left claiming malignant forces at work in politics, and for that matter in faith circles as well.  As I understand Christianity, we are to always assume that others are working from their best understanding at a given time.  In the New Church, Swedenborg claimed that angels never can even look at others crossly.  I certainly can offer, from my experience, that most individuals are well intentioned.  I may not agree with how they express or seek to realize that intention, but that does not mean I can judge the intention.  That is known as the assumption of good will.

We are lucky to live in a nation, where, for the most part political rancor, in its messiness, takes the place of bald power and weapons.  But that has not always been the case.  What my prayer is is that we step back for  a minute and take the tragedy as a time to reflect that as a nation, we all need each other.  That as a nation, political leaders, like all of us, largely are doing the best they can at any given moment.  And that as a nation, violence is never the answer.

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