The Horror and the Hope

I find I can't shake off this feeling of nausea and anxiety. While Gabrielle Giffords fights for her life on a hospital bed, my mind goes back to the pictures of her that I saw yesterday. The Arizona congresswoman looks so much like my granddaughters. The steady gaze, the inviting smile, these are so recognizable. One of my granddaughters recently graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, a town she grew to love.. There's even a little resemblance... Can't shake this feeling.
That lovely nine year old girl, killed in the bud of her promise. The husband who threw himself over his wife to protect her. So many stories of exceptional people and exceptional heroism. To think this slaughter occurred in a typical shopping mall. I hurt in my heart. I think that I too have been shot.
President Obama spoke last night, delivering a speech that was hoped to be a bandage for a stunned America. I didn't care. I, who had been so avid in support of his candidacy. I, who had read his two books and fallen in love with the idea of having a president who could write about himself and the world around him with such grace and sensibility. Yes, this fervent supporter had gradually become disillusioned.
I grew impatient with the preliminary speakers yesterday evening and fell asleep before Obama began to talk. After all, I reasoned, what could he say that would really help?
As I later learned, when dealing with a master wordsmith, a man with a profound sense of history and an understanding of the human heart, the answer is: a powerful and healing speech that has been applauded by both sides of the aisle and has been compared to the most influential presidential speeches in history. There was so much in his speech to be applauded.                                                                                                 I was particularly impressed with his tribute to Christina Green, the nine year old girl with the infectious smile that became so familiar to us on the tv screen. Christina had taken an early interest in politics and had been taken to hear representative Gabrielle Giffords speak at the shopping mall. The young girl was excited about having been elected to her student counsel and at nine she already demonstrated great promise. Born on the infamous 9/11, a day of violence that is burned into public consciousness, this budding young citizen was one of the bystanders killed at the Tucson mall. To acknowledge that this exuberant young life both began and ended in violence gives us all pause to reflect.                                                                                             Is there something we can do to reduce the tensions in our society?. President Obama stressed the simple fact that we can approach a difficult subject either on the offensive or with respect for those with whom we disagree.                                                                                                                                              Whether or not the madman who killed at the mall in Tucson was influenced by the nasty
rhetoric of political arguments is something that remains unproved. Yet we can all contribute to a more pleasant and less violent American scene by simply remembering the Golden Rule of treating others as we wish to be treated.
As our president points out it is just as easy to address our fellow citizens courteously as it is to be curt, even when we disagree.Yes, let's bring politeness back into our everyday encounters. Let's make it one of the distinguishing signs of a good citizen, a tribute to our remarkable democracy. Let's do the best we can to provide fertile fields for nurturing our children, our hope and our future, children like Christina.


1 comment:

  1. Great sentiments, June, and I pray that it is possible to set aside animus and engage in civil debate on key issues as you suggest.

    As someone who's been engaged in politics for a long time, however, there's one unfortunate thing I've learned; hate works.

    Hate energizes and motivates. It gets people to take action and rise from apathy.

    Be honest, now. How much of the "hate speech" you heard about President Bush motivated you to support Obama? The demonizing was far beyond rationality and civility,and it worked in 2006 and 2008.

    I met Obama in his State Senator days, and I've known many who knew him well and long.Let's just say my opinion of him is very different than yours.

    For years I and others have fought the battles for freeing kids from the public school bureaucracy in the inner city and suburbs, and when the educrats couldn't refute our plans and arguments for change and improvement, their only recourse was to demonize us as being "against the children".

    There was a lot of money for them at stake, so I understood the motivation.

    Perhaps changing this negative emotion and dishonest vitriol will never be possible until pols are no longer empowered to damage ourselves and our families.

    As with most American solutions, the solution to this and other problems has to start in the heart and heads of the people, and we need to reject the strategy of hate when used by either "friend" or "foe".

    I've taken a great deal of heat from both sides for taking this approach, but I believe its the only way.

    Are you ready to take that step, too, even if it means alienating your politcal "allies"?

    Maragaret Mead once said "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has"

    Are your ready to join that small group?