OP-Ed: Abraham, Martin and John

“Abraham, Martin and John.”

The Dion song was a reaction in 1968 after the assassinations of Martin Luther King in April and Robert Kennedy in June that year.  The lyrics speak also to the stories of John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. It is little wonder that song comes to mind after the horrific events in Tucson, Arizona. 

This month we celebrate Martin Luther King Day across the spectrum of history, a history that has given us a share of senseless violence and the deaths of honored men. 

But as we examine that history, we see the plus side as well, that every two years or four years we hold a small, but peaceful revolution in this country called an election.  Discourse and political debate are often heated and sometimes strident, but rarely is there violence.  It is that freedom we celebrate and that freedom that must be maintained. 

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords , D-Arizona, was doing what she loved to do when the assassin struck, she was talking to her constituents and listening to their concerns, that is part and parcel of the job she was elected to do.  

By all the reporting and all indications, the perpetrator was not acting as part of a political party or cause.    We cannot protect against the internal workings of the mind and the actions of those who sometimes follow their demons. 

It has been suggested that the Congress provide security in Members’ home districts.  The cost of that would be enormous and the benefits probably few.  John and Robert Kennedy both had security details, but they were doing what Giffords was doing—meeting the people.  If you shop at a supermarket, put gas in your car or attend church services, you are at public risk.  Dr. King put it best, “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.” 

But the power of this country has always been its freedoms and as Members of Congress it is our duty to help keep those freedoms alive. 

We will pray for healing for Congresswoman Giffords, and the others who were wounded.  We will pray for comfort for those who lost loved ones in this senseless act.  But we will continue to represent the people who have elected us, and that means walking in among the people. 

We will honor Dr. Martin Luther King for what he taught us about non-violence—a message for the Nation in this time of need:  “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.  It is a sword that heals.” 

(Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Howard, represents the Fifth District of Pennsylvania.)

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