Tragedy in Arizona

The horrific tragedy in Arizona sparked a sense of sadness and loss across the country. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

As we mourn the loss of six lives, including a federal judge and a young girl recently elected to student government, and hope for a full recovery for the 14 injured, the shock has been exacerbated by the fact that an elected official was targeted.

The motivations of someone capable of this sort of attack can't be fully comprehended. There is, however, ample evidence of increased vitriol and anger directed at elected officials in recent years. All of us, especially those of us who are public officials or politically active, have an obligation to lower the heat in our debates and to show respect for each other.

In our history we have seen and overcome deep division. The words of Abraham Lincoln at the time of our greatest divisions can give us inspiration.

In his First Inaugural he said in part: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." He concludes with the belief that all will again be touched "by the better angels of our nature."

After hundreds of thousands of casualties in the North and South, in the Second Inaugural he says in part: "With malice toward none; with charity for all: with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds....."

As we mourn together, I hope that we can come together as Americans with respect for our differences and for our common bonds.