On Wednesday night, President Obama spoke at the memorial service in Tucson after the Saturday's deadly shooting:
"We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that's entirely up to us. And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us."
The President asked that we take a deep breath.
"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 insticts for empathy and to remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams our bound together."
So, what brings us together, despite our political positions?
I had mixed feelings about the President's speech. Although at times quite moving, it seemed to, at least implicitly, support the false equivalence "both sides do it" meme so prevalent in the MSM these last few days. Brian's mention of Erik Ericson's claim that it was a rebuke to liberals confirmed my discomfort.
-Mej from Manhattan
OUR MISERY UNITES US
People are suffering in this country like not since the Depression. There is great hardship and misery out there, unemployment homelessness lack of health care foreclosures, etc etc. While Wall St. bankers and CEO's have more than they could ever use. There is a breaking point and we are starting to hit it. Telling us to calm down and be civil to each other while we're dying, metaphorically and literally, isn't helpful.
-Xtina from E. Village
Sometimes finger pointing IS necessary. Just as we don't have all the facts in this incident to point towards the moronic rhetoric of people like palin,angle etc, we also don't have the facts that prove that this guy WASN'T influenced and guided by this. To just write this off as some random crazy guy w/ a gun is not prudent, in my opinion. crazy people are the ones who ARE influenced by dangerous speech, normal people can decipher but the insane can't. But what we should all do, is to not necessarily finger point but IGNORE. Ignore those that spew this garbage. msnbc,cnn,fox step up and be americans first.
-Bernie from Brooklyn
As someone involved in educating and raising children, I have to say that I think both Republicans, Democrats, liberals, coservatives, whatever, have a vested interest in raising children who are in engaged citizenry and I think that defeinitely means the ability to listen to people who disagree with you and hear them out and understand their perspectives because we don't just want to raise automotans who repeat and parrot what we teach them. It think it's important both sides want kids to grow up who are critical thinkers and that involves being able to listen to people you don't agree with.
-Suzanna in Columbia County, NY calling in to the Brian Lehrer Show
Conservatives and liberals are bound together in the belief that capitalism is the best economic system so far conceived, even if we disagree on how much to regulate that system.
-Gerard from Manhattan
The background noises and roucous reactions, cheering and jeering, were almost as meaningful as the words of the President's speech in exemplifying how difficult the task of re-establishing common sense and civility to the political and social dialogue in America today .
Let us not waste the golden opportunity that this one too common tragedy offers us to regain our humanity and goodness.
-Gianni Lovato from Chatham, NY
Everyone wants to improve their lives and the world. We just really, really disagree about the specifics. But I think in the end it comes down to love. If we understand that those who disagree with us love and care about their families and others just as much as we do, it makes it a lot easier to respect them as fellow human beings. Yes, there are those individuals out there who are motivated by fear and hatred, but they are the minority. Loud yes, but the minority, and I believe it's important to NOT assume that if someone disagrees with you, even if they are disagreeing really loudly, that they are a part of that minority.
-Stephanie from Jackson Heights
Its a breath of fresh air to hear a discussion about what unites us, instead of what divides us. Why does it always take a tragedy to bring this home?
When I heard your "assignment" on the radio this morning, I was stumped. So, I thought, let me read what others have written. And, barring a few comments on the welfare of children or love of money - most have not listed ways in which we are united. I cannot think of a single way in which we are united. We are split down the very center literally in the country with the "blue" states on each coast and the "red" fly overs in the middle. We are split down the aisle, which at least one bright person mentioned some will not even cross to get work done. Those on the right are a nasty selfish bunch and they scare me. Those on the left are lame and ineffectual, and for that they scare me.
I am scared to death of what's happening in this country. I think a war is coming.
-Matt in Washington Heights
What unites us? It all depends on who "us" is. We choose not to know what is inconvenient. We enjoy the freedoms this country gives us at the same time we all see the big divide between people whom choose not to be informed and those who do. Part of being American is being educated and informed.
-Francisco from Los Angeles