The state of Arizona has been a contentious place to live, politically, for several years now. As a resident of Tucson, I know. We live in a state where it seems that hatred and a selfish, so-called pioneering “spirit” have been at the core of our legislature and governor’s seat, and perhaps beyond. Legislation that provides for racial profiling, that bans ethnic studies, and — most recently — that provides for the purchase of a handgun without background checks and the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit has been energetically approved by a legislature that prides itself on being “maverick” — as if leadership is defined by that singular trait — but has no overarching sense of community, respect, and compassion. These acts go beyond the ability of someone to reasonably protect him- or herself and into the realm of hate and anti-government. That polls and voting demonstrate that many of the state’s residents support such moves is astounding and disturbing. Or comes down to ignorance, self-imposed or otherwise, which is just as disturbing.
But the tragic events of today, when U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot point blank along with 18 others, when a federal judge, a nine-year-old girl, and a Congressional aide were murdered (among others) by a 22-year-old man with a semi-automatic assault gun at a public event in a public space, has surpassed anything most of us could have feared.
The editors of Terrain.org send our deepest condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the families of those injured and killed. We hope for fast and full recoveries by Congresswoman Giffords and the others who were injured.
We also call for an overhaul of the state legislature, a full repeal of the race-based and hate-based legislation and dangerous gun legislation. The effects of such legislation, though indirect, are nevertheless evident in the actions of today.
We live in a geography of rich cultural and ecological diversity, a diversity that should be celebrated with respect, openness, and compassion. Hate has no place here.
Congresswoman Giffords is an amazing person, the U.S.’s biggest elected representative for renewable energy, a strong advocate for place and the kind of diversity that can make this state such an inspiring and wonderful place. Just a year ago she wrote the guest editorial for Terrain.org’s 24th issue: “Solar is the Bridge to Our Future.”
Let us build from this tragedy to create a state that values diversity and compassion, and let us always remember those who lost their lives and suffered injuries.