Healing from the Tucson Tragedy

The Tucson Tragedy by Dr. John Newport

Saturday, January 8, 2011 will go down in history as one of the saddest days in Arizona and our entire nation. Shortly after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords began her “Congress on Your Corner” meeting with constituents in a Safeway parking lot less than a mile from my home on Tucson’s northwest side, a crazed gunman charged to the front of the line – shooting Giffords in the temple. All told he shot 19 of the 25 people at the gathering, gravely wounding Representative Giffords and brutally killing six participants. By the grace of God I had overslept – otherwise I would have been there.

The day of the shooting, and the days and weeks that followed, witnessed both an unspeakable tragedy and unparalleled acts of heroism. Significantly, three of the six persons who were brutally slain died as a direct result of their heroic efforts to save others’ lives.

In many respects I believe that the senseless shooting here in Tucson provides a microcosm of the cataclysmic tragedy of September 11, 2011 in terms of the eerie combination of unspeakable tragedy and outstanding acts of courage. These events are also similar in that both tragedies, which snuffed out the lives and dreams of innocent Americans, were followed by a tidal wave of healing energy and compassionate outreach that spread throughout the nation and across the world.

The day after the shooting I decided to write a book about the event and its aftermath. My goal was to portray the human side of this collective experience, both in terms of the tragic repercussions of the shooting, and the incredible outpouring of healing and compassion triggered by this ghastly event. Now, close to seven months after the date of the shooting, I am reviewing the final galleys for The Tucson Tragedy: Lessons from the Senseless Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords just before the book goes to print.

I am grateful to the many people who have lent their insight in bringing this book to fruition. I am particularly indebted to Rabbi Stephanie Aaron, Gabrielle Giffords’ spiritual advisor, and Brian Walker, PhD, a Tucson-based psychologist with an active practice focusing on anger management and violence prevention.

As portrayed in The Tucson Tragedy, in the context of today’s vitriolic, highly partisan political climate, Gabrielle Giffords stands out as a compassionate public servant who selflessly serves as a champion of her constituents and epitomizes the spirit of bipartisan cooperation. She is also a dynamic woman with incredible spunk, courage and fortitude who continues to pursue an arduous course of rehabilitation following the grave wound inflicted on her. On August 1, 2011, she received a standing ovation from her colleagues in Congress as she entered the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to cast her vote in favor of the debt-ceiling increase/deficit cutting bill whose passage was needed to break the nerve-racking gridlock that had stalled passage of a federal budget.

Much of the material presented in this website is drawn from The Tucson Tragedy. Current postings include basic information about the book, including the foreword by Rabbi Aaron and a sample chapter, a section for book stores and other retail vendors, a “buy the book” feature, a media press kit, and a “call to action” to readers who wish to play an active role in combating the epidemic of senseless violence that plagues our nation and the entire planet.

To paraphrase President Obama’s remarks at his memorial speech at the University of Arizona on January 12, I hope the materials presented on this website and in the accompanying book may inspire each of us to resolve to live our lives in a manner that demonstrates that the forces that unite us are, indeed, infinitely more powerful than those that divide us.

John Newport, Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona