As I write this Gabrielle Giffords is in an ICU unit and expected to survive. Americans and others are praying for her recovery and remain mindful of those others who were shot recently. Physicians and other medical providers and administrators who helped save Representative Giffords life are to be commended. This includes the legislative intern with some medical training who was with her at the time of the shooting. With others, I am trying to derive meaning from what is happening in our nation and around the increasingly interconnected world.
Medicine is the art and science of healing. Distress is fractal and exists at the scales of individual and society. Our "body politic" needs healing. I find it odd that some now reason that it is the specific motivations of the shooting suspect that will determine whether or not the shooting was related to political issues, including healthcare reform. Words and images have consequences. The scope of our inquiry and concern is not the thought patterns of one apparently disturbed young mind -- that of the suspect in this case. The person is probably mentally ill and his motivations do not define the larger reality. As Representative Giffords said prior to the shooting, words and metaphors have consequences. This is about a fractured body politic. While we cannot expect neurosurgeons to heal our nation we can perhaps learn from medicine by seeing healing in a larger context.