If nothing else, the Tucson tragedy is replete with “what can we learn from this” elements.
We can learn that it doesn’t take drawing your gun to be a hero. But having the gun at hand does bolster confidence when facing danger.
We can learn that love isn’t just for the young.
When the shooting started Saturday, [D0rwin Stoddard] dove to the ground, covering his wife Mavy, who was shot in the leg three times. The couple had been grade school sweethearts growing up in Tucson.
After their respective spouses died, they independently moved back to retire, became reacquainted and fell in love all over again.
Mavy Stoddard talked to her husband, who was shot in the head, for 10 minutes while he breathed heavily. Then he stopped breathing.
“He heard the shots and covered my mom with his own body and protected her and saved her,” said stepdaughter Penny Wilson.
We can learn the importance of saying “I love you,” at the end of a phone call.
Rautenberg said the last time she saw her mother [Phyllis Scheck] was over the summer in New Jersey.
“But I talked to her frequently,” she said. “I had spoken to her on Thursday. She had sent me some pictures and I called her to thank her for the pictures. I was going to visit her in two weeks and we talked about that.”
“Thank goodness the call ended with ‘I love yous,” she said.
We can learn that the beauty of a life has little to do with its length.
We can learn to recognize the warning signs of mental illness, and act on them.
It seems to me that – particularly in a state with laws like Arizona’s – dealing with a potentially dangerous individual is less the responsibility of the college than the community. Loughner’s fellow students, many of whom articulated their fear of him (“he scares the living crap out of me”), are adults, as are his professors, his friends, his neighbors, and his family members. It’s hard to blame them for not doing more. It’s highly unlikely that many, if any, of them knew what options they had for dealing with the threat they knew Loughner posed. But awareness of such laws (in the states where they’re on the books) should increase in the coming weeks.
If you will be anywhere near Tucson on Thursday January 13, here is your chance to do a great kindness.