While I was meant to be writing today’s blog a Twitter message alerted me to watch the full speech given by US President Obama at the Tucson Memorial and I was moved by what I heard. His words include ideas of healing, letting a little child’s hopes and expectations lead us, expecting better of ourselves as adults, and nurturing civility in our public discourse.
This is a non-political blog and, with the caveat that any speech by an incumbent politician also has political ramifications, I felt that many of the ideas in this speech touch on issues beyond the political. President Obama is, understandably, directly addressing the American people in this moment of their national grief. However, I feel that here in the UK we can benefit from this half hour long thought-provoking (prayer-prompting?) speech…not only because we, too deal with the fallout from polarisation in politics but also because of the polarised and uncivil point-scoring we see in the discourse between strident atheism and religions, and among the religions themselves. And because of a tendency that challenges us to confuse the selfishness of childishness with the constructive hope of childlikeness.
The tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, has been headline news here in the UK too, and the thoughts of us all – and the prayers of those who pray – are with the grieving families, and with those hoping for physical and emotional healing.
President Obama’s losing opponent during the 2008 Presidential campaign, John McCain, quickly responded with a generous, affirmative Opinion piece in the Washington Post, called After the shootings, Obama reminds the nation of the golden rule.
Here is a spiritual perspective on childlikeness which I think can help us all in our discourse on important political and religious issues: “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, — this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony. The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy)