The Martyrs of Tucson; that is how I think of them. Martyrs to democracy.
We need the voice of goodness that always fosters peace, the voice of justice that never keeps silent. Instead we, in all our sinfulness, are here and we need to converse with one another.
Not American heroes of foreign soil, but martyrs on public parking lots. Read about democracy in books, watch it on television, but do not dance for democracy in public places. Stay home and listen to hate on the radio.
The link between these killings and the current climate of political rhetoric is there in my estimation and in the estimation of many others. You cannot avoid politics: you can ignore it, you can demean it, but you cannot avoid it. Issues of access to health care by the mentally ill, gun control, public safety, hate speech, the troubled young suspect and the martyrs prompt thoughts of all of this and more.
Particularly if you think of yourself as a “moderate” your absence in the building of democracy has created a power imbalance in favor of hatred. America needs you to speak, to write, to participate in this country’s governance, now, immediately.
As Catholics in America we face the peculiar challenge of not speaking out about certain things; the ordination of women comes immediately to mind, but we need to find a voice, a Catholic American voice to talk about 9-year-old girls who want to learn about government and whose blood washes parking lots instead.
A good place to start might be at the West Branch Town Hall on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m. for a public reading of his words and a shared potluck. Leave your gun at home please, hearts and minds are enough. Bring the children.