How to Honor the Victims of the Tucson Shooting.

Via Erica Hamilton
on Jan 9, 2011
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Do we really want to make things better?

We have the choice now to react to this tragedy with hatred and attempts at vilification—or to respond to it with great compassion and love.

In the aftermath of the horrifying tragedy in Tucson, many of us may feel paralyzed by shock, outrage and confusion. How could this have happened? Why did it happen? Who is responsible? Our minds seek answers while our hearts grieve.

Beyond the unending stream of news and opinion posts about the tragedy, there is the actual suffering of people directly affected by the shooting: the survivors of the Tucson attack, the family members and friends of the slain, the family members and friends of the survivors. Additionally, millions of people throughout the world are feeling appalled, bewildered and sickened in response to learning of the shooting.

What can we do?

We can send condolences and messages of support to the family members of the victims.

We can contribute to and spread the word about the Gabriel Zimmerman Scholarship Fund.

Certainly, we can pray, meditate and send wishes of healing to those directly affected by the shooting.

We can also try to learn from the tragedy in the hopes of preventing more tragedies.

My suggestion:

Unite and strike at hatred through service.

Conservatives, independents and liberals—all of us can serve our communities alongside one another. This is not a time to allow our hatred, intolerance and biases to overcome us. It is a time to come together in acts of altruism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Later that day, Robert Kennedy gave a speech in Indianapolis about the assassination in which he stated:

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

He told the audience that King sought to:

Replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

We have the choice now to react to this tragedy with hatred and attempts at vilification—or to respond to it with great compassion and love.

Representative Giffords’ favorite quote is reportedly one from President Abraham Lincoln:

With malice toward none, with charity for all,…let us strive on to finish the work we are in,…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

In responding to this tragedy, we can heed the wisdom of King’s question:

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is “what are you doing for others?”

What can you do for others? Find a service project through any of web portals listed below. Serve on the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, January 17.  Give freely of your time to those in need in your community. Turn off the news for a while and commit to making a difference.


Charity Guide

MLK Day of Service


Volunteers of America


About Erica Hamilton

Erica Shane Hamilton is the founder of Mind-Body Wellness, a wellness practice in Uppsala, Sweden. She is also the director of the non-profit website, Patient Corps, which links patients with volunteer opportunities. Erica holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Saybrook University and she is an ordained member of the Order of Interbeing in the Zen Buddhist tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Erica's Twitter name is EricaSHamilton and her blog is Determined to Heal.


10 Responses to “How to Honor the Victims of the Tucson Shooting.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jack Daw, eshaneh and eshaneh. eshaneh said: How to respond to the Tucson tragedy? #Gabrielle Giffords #elej […]

  2. Liza Hamilton says:

    Nice Erica! Love you.

  3. A true yogic reaction to a horrifying event. I know I will follow it. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for your article, I woke up this morning with the words of Gandhi going over and over in my head and you said the same thing so nicely. I will share this. "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

  5. Bud Wilson says:

    Thank you Erica, you offer a clear path to compassionate action. I too was posting on the Elephant Journal just yesterday a fairly satirical piece about the nature of the politically conservative mind and how the fear centers in the brain have been discovered to be larger than in the brain of a liberal. It is preliminary research that may add to our human conversation about violence in us and our culture. Then, I heard the news from Arizona and wondered if I should shift my article to address what happened there in Tucson. Instead, I'm offering a poem in a new post today!
    Thank you for such clarity and comforting words and recommendations.

  6. A beautiful quote and I hope others also benefit from Gandhi's wise words.

  7. […] on the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and others here, here, here, here. Things to do about it here. From the NY […]

  8. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    I absolutely love this piece and these sentiments. Thank you!

  9. […] you have the time and soul, please take this pith advice on honoring the shooting victims through service. Finally, sign the petition to Congress and TV networks to end the violent rhetoric, […]

  10. […] Posted by patientcorps on January 10, 2011 · Leave a Comment  As Representative Giffords fights for her life in the intensive care unit, what can we do? Observe a moment of silence today (Monday) at 11am eastern standard time. Unite and strike at hatred through service. We can choose to work together in service to our communities. Read more on elephant journal. […]