Monday, January 10, 2011

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira's Opening Day Remarks

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a friend and colleague to many of us in this room. She sat there, where Michelle Reagan sits today when she served in the Arizona Senate. She held the seat that Paula Aboud now holds. As I said, many of us count Gabby as a friend, but my heart especially goes out to those who have been with her in Tucson in recent days, Paula Aboud and Linda Lopez. Know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers as you were there to console the close friends and family of the Congresswoman and the others injured on Saturday.

In addition to a friendship, Congresswoman Giffords and I share a religious tradition. Part of the tradition is the principle of “Tikkun Olam” or “repairing the world.” As Jews, we are commanded by God to exercise our compassion, our strength and our skills to make the world a better place. This has been my mission as an elected leader, and I know it’s Gabby’s as well.

I want to send thoughts and prayers on behalf of myself, my family and all of us here today to the families of Judge John Roll, Gabe Zimmerman, Dorwin Stoddard, Christina Greene, Dorthy Murray and Phyllis Scheck and to those who are still fighting for their lives in Tucson. Although, we will spend lots of time talking about our friend Gabby today, it is important to recognize that she was not the only victim of this senseless act.

I know that over the last two days and in the coming weeks and months, all of us try to make sense of this tragedy, but it makes no sense. This was an act of a deranged young man. Those of us in this room know how to have political discourse without resorting to violence, but there are those out there who don’t. That’s why it’s incumbent on us as elected leaders in the public eye to maintain civility, to avoid hate-filled labels and to treat each other with respect both away from and in front of TV cameras. If this horrendous act is to teach us anything, it should be that we are all human and all of us are granted certain inalienable rights by our creator.We must treat all people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, party or immigration status as such.

This morning, I contemplated where I would like to be for the moment of silence asked for by President Obama. I thought about coming here or going to the Democratic Party, but I finally decided that the most important place for me to be was at home with my infant daughter. I held her and hugged her, and thought of the nine year-old girl who tragically lost her life Saturday.

We need to be better, all of us, so this doesn’t happen again.

I ask that as we each deal with this tragedy in our own ways, we all remember the principle of “Tikkun Olam.” The world needs healing, our nation needs healing, our state needs healing. As our friends begin their process of physical healing at hospitals in Tucson, let’s honor them and honor those who lost their lives on Saturday by starting Arizona’s healing today.

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