Tom Zoellner has some great points about how Arizona fails the mentally ill, but I take issue with his assertion that Tucson neighborhoods are among the "coldest and most distant," implying that we're a hollow community and partially to blame for Gabby Giffords' shooting (HCN, 2/20/12, "Extreme Arizona"). Zoellner says that he can attest to this, because as an 11-year-old he lived on Tucson's northwest side, a razed, barren and heartless place. I think his feelings of isolation more likely stemmed from the fact that he'd been uprooted, which is traumatic for a kid. I also remind the author that all neighborhoods were new at one time.
Tucson is just as strong a community as any other. I know this because I am a native Tucsonan who moved away for 15 years, and returned in 2010 to a town that welcomed me back as if I'd never left.
What happened on Jan. 8, 2011, may describe us, but it doesn't define us. It's the spin-doctors that take advantage of the uneducated and uninformed, and the politicians who carry their guns into session or fling their fingers at presidents, who are to blame for our reputation. I appreciate the attempt to identify the root of what went wrong that day, but we cannot forget that this is not a Tucson problem, it's a societal problem. It won't be solved until we successfully vote out the disconnected everywhere.