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The Tucson Shootings and Civility

Updated on January 5, 2018
Feeling passive about this uncivil accusation is recklessness.
Feeling passive about this uncivil accusation is recklessness. | Source

Civility in Tucson?

Surprised by the focus on civility during Tucson's memorial service for its shooting victims, I found that the reality of their injuries and deaths made it difficult for me to put the heart of the point out of my mind. I tried to ignore the speech and I even made excuses for not talking or writing about it at the time.

When I heard the comments about civility my first thought was that they were just too absurd to respond to. Try as I might, I could not wrap my mind around the callousness regarding the tragedy.

Publicly or privately, somebody brought the topic of civility up every day after it was first mentioned in those early weeks of the attack. I told myself to focus on other things for I didn’t want to come close to openly disrespecting the leader of our country.

“What’s to respect?” some may ask. Well, the thing is, it’s not about any particular leader, it’s about how God instructs us regarding leadership even though so many of them make it dreadfully difficult to respond respectfully to what they say and do.

What God has to say about leadership, however, is significant. It's substance for an entire series of posts, actually. Many have written well about it, and I doubt that I will do more, but I try not to forget the truth of what I know on that topic.

The focus of this hub is to highlight the concept of civility that was used with such precision during the Tucson memorial service for the shooting victims. Bashing a leader is not my goal, but as an American I have the right and responsibility to speak up when it is important to do so.

We should not be passive about the concept of civility that was promoted at Tucson's memorial event in the aftermath of the shootings.
We should not be passive about the concept of civility that was promoted at Tucson's memorial event in the aftermath of the shootings. | Source

Everyone has a Response to the Tragedy of the Tucson Shootings but the Issues are not About Civility

The crux of the carefulness with which I try to write is that I want to honor what God says. He gave me belief in His Word and He then gave me enough experience to cause me to trust Him even more. I have learned that God is not passive. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time to be still and a time to respond.

The fact that the term “civility” began and ended so many conversation since that memorial service has compelled me to speak up. Much of what I hear about that word is right, some not so much, but I’ve not heard anyone give a direct answer to the way it was used in the sad excuse for a memorial ceremony speech in which the many dead were treated so lightly and their families’ horror, loss, and grief were taken advantage of for blatant purposes of political persuasion.

Among others, a beautiful young girl died at the hands of a murderer that day and I want to know why that indicates that I need to be more civil. I did not murder that precious child. If I were to cast my mind about to try to blame someone other than the one who did it or to foolishly try to find excuses for the murderer, I think I would begin with those who took God out of the equation of that person’s education and entertainment.

It would be futile, though, because in this country, even today, long after the printed 10 Commandments were taken from the walls of our schools, hospitals, and other public buildings, people still know that one. Everyone knows that it is wrong, as in ultimate-crime wrong, to kill other people, especially little girls. She knew it, Tucson knew it, and most certainly the man who chose to do it knew it.

That criminal chose to do what he did that day and he should have been swiftly judged for his decision, both because he earned the judgement and because the example of his judgement is needed by other criminals. As well, our nation needed the judgement to be swift as part of its healing. I am reminded of yet more words from Ecclesiastes, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

The real question of civility is about responding appropriately to the tragedy.
The real question of civility is about responding appropriately to the tragedy. | Source

For Tucson's Youngest Victim

What Should be Said About the Civility Discussion Applied to this Tragedy?

All that is not to say that for decent people there would be any real satisfaction in this man being swiftly executed--nay, not at all. It is to say, though, that there is a safety factor related to the process of our healing from such great sins against humanity.

We would all be safer if this man were permanently prevented from any possibility of ever doing such a thing in any place again, and we would be safer if the example of a swift execution were allowed to speak to the relatively small number of other people who might consider doing such a despicable thing in the future.

Still, what does this specific evil man’s actions have to do with you or me needing to be more civil? How did I cause this man to make his choices? Sorry--I’m not buying that story. I did not kill these people, and neither did you. Urgent debates about health care, vehement debates in recent elections, noisy talk show hosts did not, nor, once again, did “we” murder that little girl.

Incivility did not kill her, or wound other people, or grieve the citizens of this nation on that tragic day. One evil man made the choices that motivated him to kill. Even if he had a bad childhood, or a disability, or a mean teacher, or any number of other things that many, many other people have suffered, he is still the one who made the choices he made that day. Incivility in America did not do that deed. We are not perfect, but on an elementary level Americans know that this was wrong in the biggest sense of the word.

Nothing in me feels civil toward that murderer. As uncivil as it may seem to the reckless mind, I wouldn’t complain if he had been shot on the spot for his fiendish work since there is no question of his responsibility. However, I am thankful for the system of justice that we have in this country because it is a good effort to help keep us from responding according to our feelings in the heat of a moment and thereby making serious mistakes along the way.

By the same token, and in case I have not made it clear, nothing in me feels civil toward being blamed for that murderer’s choices to shoot, injure, and kill his victims in Tucson that sad day. It's important to think the issues through. I’m thankful to live in a country where it is possible to appropriately discuss the wrongness of being blamed for that murderer's actions. Your thoughts are welcome in the comments below.

Goodbye Too Soon--Tucson's Losses

More On The Issues We Face:

Considering how the issues we face are related:

Homelessness: how important is personal responsibility to the issues we face?

911 memorials you may not know about.

• What about the truth?

• It's important to let politicians know what we think.

Sad Aftermath

Join This Dialogue About Civility And The Tucson Shootings Here:

Submit a Comment

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from the short journey

    Simply forgiving and forgetting what was done that day would be unforgivable. Doing so in other despicable cases has generated consequences that the people of our country should have learned from by now. You might like to see my hub "Justice, Forgiveness, and Repentance: A Conversation..." It is linked just above these comments.

    Your comment, "What a bunch of savages we have become to not be outraged by this" is a pretty good summation of what we have come to because we have not learned the ensuing lessons of refusal to judge rightly. Calling the actions of those who sin against others an illness that needs treatment or even saying an evil action was okay, understandable, or excusable due to something like incivility only opens the door to even more offenses.

    Our society has come to the point where there is little understanding about the truth that having a compassionate, forgiving spirit toward someone who is guilty of a heinous deed does not conflict with the "need" for the guilty to be judged to the fullest extent of the law. That "need" is bound up in the victim's (and the rest of society's) basic right to be protected and defended by having their communities demand a righteous judgement and then having their governments respond appropriately. Though there is much more to this, it is for the sake of justice that we need to maintain a standard of upholding the laws of our land and of our society in rightly judging criminals.

    Indeed, where is the outrage against such crimes?

  • CountryCityWoman profile image


    7 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

    It's good we have a place to vent - because so often we have to. But no matter how stupid we may behave as adults the slaughter of this child is unforgivable. The reason I use the word is because this should remain fresh in all our minds - otherwise we will not effect change. We've been told so often to forgive and get on with life, which has become a kind of dismissive stance - and slaughtering children continues to happen. Maybe we should not get on with life - and stop and effect some change here. What a bunch of savages we have become to not be outraged by this.

    I'm glad I have a place to vent as well.

    Thank you!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from the short journey

    Thank you for stopping by and reading this hub Shelly. Your comment is greatly appreciated.

  • Shelly McRae profile image

    Shelly McRae 

    7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    Thoughful essay- you brought a perspective of singular quality toward this tragedy.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from the short journey

    Thank you.

    We are thankful that the congresswoman is doing well. All of the victims deserve for us to remember them and the lessons that are in both the event itself and in the aftermath.

    Thank you very much for stopping in and contributing to the comments.

  • b4murray profile image


    7 years ago from Massachusetts

    Good Hub!

    This is such a tragedy. Glad the congresswoman is doing well,which the media is focusing on, But we shouldnt forget other lives were lost.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from the short journey


    Thank you for reading and leaving your comments. It did seem that what should have been a memorial service was viewed as an opportunity. This is certainly not a new tactic in political behavior, but I'm not sure that I've ever known of a more overt display of such behavior, especially so fresh in the face of the victims, their city, and the nation.

    Believer's need to be heeding the example of Bible prophets--walking around on our knees pleading for mercy with humble and contrite hearts.

    So appreciate your helping to keep the dialogue going. We need to keep conversations about what has happened highlighted if we are to remember the lessons...or should I say, if we are to figure out what the lessons are and learn them.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from the short journey

    sligobay: Thank you for reading and responding with your thoughts. Dealing with the "monsters among us" is a responsibility that every society takes care of one way or another and that simple fact makes the comments surrounding the use of the word civil in that speech even more irresponsible than my first impressions.

    Individually and corporately, God is sovereign over all of our lives even if we do not believe it to be so. I was pondering that fact recently when I wrote this: "Sands wash ashore, yet Wisdom rules, not chance." Personally and nationally, we are in His hands, yet He has given us a responsibility to respond positively or negatively to what He says in His written Word with clear warning that those responses have consequences.

    The problem is, too many of us don't take the time to find out what it means to either believe what He says, or not. The responsibility that we have before our Creator is brushed aside without a thought of the truth that "the wheels of justice may grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine." Whether it's a monster or a leader of a country or just me, what God says about what we say and do does not change, nor does the fact that He will hold us accountable.

    That said, we have everything to be thankful for in the fact that with humble and contrite hearts we may go to the Mercy Seat through Jesus the Christ according to His Word.

    Thank you again for contributing to this dialogue. Conversations about the truth of that day's events and the fall out are important.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Bravo! I absolutely agree with you. I think the whole thing was poorly handled and a eulogy?? or more accurately a political speech where people clapped every few minutes like they were at a graduation was totally inappropriate, certainly not civil. Your hub is a well written analogy of the truth as I see it.

  • sligobay profile image


    7 years ago from east of the equator

    Thank you for your thoughtful expression of anger at the 'official' response being minimized as 'incivility' when the act was in fact, barbarity. There are barbarians, sociopaths, anarchists and monsters living among us and they must be dealt with individually. There are provocateurs, voyeurs and inciters to violence who will continue to disseminate their messages of hate and violence for monetary and political gain. There are more of those who are self-righteous and inflammatory in their words and purpose who will furl themselves in the flag of unbridled freedom without responsibility. The fate of this child was in the hands of God rather than any man or men as she has now been brought home to her Father, for reasons and purposes that only God can know.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from the short journey

    Thank you kindly, Tamarajo, both for taking the time to read this hub and for commenting as that helps keep dialogue going about important issues.

  • Tamarajo profile image


    7 years ago

    Well spoken and great passion for righteousness. You made some excellent points.


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