Dear Gabrielle Giffords:
A week ago I didn’t know your name. Now, I will never forget you.
With a terrifying rain of bullets on a sunny Saturday morning in January, three things happened in quick succession.
One. In an instant, the labels of Republican/Democrat, conservative/liberal vanished into thin air with the echoes of gun blasts and screams. I remember another morning, a sunny Tuesday in September, when the same thing happened. It’s such a shame that’s what it takes for us to truly see each other as people.
Two. A moment later, the ugliest side of those labels came thundering back at us with blunt force in the form of monstrous fingers frantically pointing. In a state of shock, America was then sucker-punched from within.
“Who’s to blame?” continues to be the common refrain from the partisan choirs on both sides of the aisle. It’s a natural question, but for many it is sadly an agenda.
WHO’S TO BLAME? The vicious political rhetoric of late? A map covered with crosshairs targeting congressional districts? Guns and bullets? A madman, whose mug shot grin is now seared into our minds and will forever haunt us?
For those opportunists who slither amongst us, their enemy is always the one to blame, no matter the circumstances.
The worst part is that these finger-pointers think they have mastered the art of leveling blame on everyone else while simultaneously (and sanctimoniously) running from any responsibility on their part. Within seconds of the tragedy in Tucson, while you and others lay fighting for your lives, while others had lost their lives, some on the left were playing “Six Degrees of Blaming Sarah Palin” and some on the right were responding with “Pin the Blame on the Donkey.” Shame on them all!
However, it is the third thing to rise out of Saturday morning that has most impacted me: YOU.
You, Gabrielle, while lying silently in your hospital bed, have spoken louder and clearer than any of your colleagues or media or armchair pundits at home, many of whom are angling to use you and this event to push an agenda.
You have reminded us of the grace and sheer determination of the human spirit. With the news you are improving daily, even flashing peace signs and thumbs-up gestures, you have given each of us a rare gift.
You have inspired us with a glimpse of the raw, primal strength that built this country hundreds of years ago. It is a strength that now courses through our genetic code as a nation. It is a strength that, despite the labels, the haters, and even the bullets which may pierce the very essence of who we are as individuals, has sustained this land of the free, this home of the brave. And always will.
Unfortunately, the finger-pointers and their ilk will always remind us of how words are, indeed, the deadliest weapon of all.
But you will always represent for me a far greater lesson: how it is in the quiet moments of struggle and challenge when we live truth to its most magnificent power.
Peace & Love,
John Schlimm is a member of one of the oldest brewing families in the United States, meaning he sees life through sudsy, gold-colored glasses. A former celebrity publicist, educator, and artist, John is the award-winning author of several books, including his latest, Harrah’s Entertainment Presents…The Seven Stars Cookbook as well as The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook (named “Best Beer Book in the U.S.” and “Best Beer Book in the World” by the international Gourmand Awards).