Friday, January 14, 2011

Living up to her expectations...(In memory of Christina Taylor Green)

I have been thinking about Christina Taylor Green a lot the last couple of days, as I hope we all are.  When I think of the Tuscon Tragedy, it occurs to me that at first we put too much attention on the wrong victim.  Sure we are concerned about our lawmakers as they are the fundamental components of our democracy.  Our children, however, are the future of our democracy and if it is ever to change, if we are ever to become better, that hope rests in the innocent smiles of our children.  Another sad and shameful side affect of concentrating our attention on Rep Gabrielle Gifford is that we gave too much voice, too much face time and too much attention to one of the most divisive people on the political platform, Sarah Palin.
   Christina-Taylor Green

This is the face of the Tragedy in Tuscon.  A face of innocence.  A face that represents everything that is good and right about us a human race.  This nine year old girl should represent the hope that we have as a nation. Let us face it, Democrat or Republican, what we are doing now is not working.  We as liberals and Democrats refuse to lay down and get walked all over by the Right and the Republicans.  If you talk to the Right and to Republicans they will say the same thing.  Both sides are both victims and villains.  It is a deadly dance for power, one that both sides are willing to sacrifice this country over.  We, as a nation, are a shameful representation of what happens when politics get out of control.  Regardless of what Mrs. Palin says, this national political conversation is not healthy in its current state.  The result is cynicism, negativity and ultimately a disinterest in the process, or worse, a violent rejection of it and its participants.

I was reading President Obama's speech at the memorial service in Tucson and was touched by this portion:

"That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. 
Imagine -- imagine for a moment, here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that some day she, too, might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council. She saw public service as something exciting and hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it.  All of us -- we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations. 
As has already been mentioned, Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart."  "I hope you jump in rain puddles."
If there are rain puddles in Heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on this Earth -- here on this Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and we commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit."
President Barak Obama

As I read these words I thought about children. The things we tell them and how those gems of advice could be put into practice by us, the parents, in our involvement in the national political conversation.  Consider this:

(1) "Don't yell"  Tone is everything.  If we could tone it down and approach this conversation with less anger, less disrespect and more consideration.  If we could bring ourselves to swallow our pride and learn to agree to disagree we could possibly turn around the tone of the conversation in this nation.  I am guilty as the next person.  I am passionate.  I yell, snap, cuss and all kinds of other negative tones but in the final analysis it does not help the situation any.

(2) "You don't always have to win every time"  Boy this is a hard one.  On both sides, left and right, we cannot concede once.  To concede is to show weakness.  Neither of us are willing to be the first one to "lower our weapons" in this standoff.  We have to win, and we have to win every time.  The goal has somehow changed from governing to eliminating the competition.  Our politics in this country has been degraded to the point that we are like mobsters and mafia god fathers and the point is to eliminate the competition with any means necessary.

(3) "Don't hit!" or "Don't Bite"  I don't care what the Rush Limbaughs, the Sean Hannitys, the Glen Becks or the Sarah Palins have to say...our tone in this country has become to violent.  I have my personal views on whether or not both sides are equal in this, and at some point I may write a blog on it, but that is NOT the point right now.  The point is that violence against opposition has become "funny" and in some cases even patriotic.  When the Glen becks and the Sharon Angles start talking about "Second Amendment remedies" and start talking about armed revolutions and start having target practice with opponents initials on the targets then we have gone to far.  We have to make it clear that violence is not acceptable in a free and civilized society and we will not tolerate it.

(4) "Just because you can does not mean you should"  Yes we do have freedom of speech and we should not in any way limit it or legislate it.  We cannot infringe on that right and should not.  But we have to learn that just because we have freedom of speech does not mean we are free from the consequences.  A specific example (other than Sarah Palin) comes to mind.  I remember the relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, John Rocker, and the big stink that eventually ruined his career.  The things he said about minorities and about New York and its cultural diversity.  The backlash to his statements was so bad that it ended up becoming a circus that ended up distracting him and ultimately ended his career.  The lesson was simple...just because you CAN say something, does not mean you SHOULD say it.  Yes you have freedom of speech and freedom of expression but that freedom does not protect you from the consequences.  Sarah Palin has the right to say the crazy things she says...but that right does not protect her from the consequences.  And criticizing her, censuring her and ultimately rejecting her is NOT an infringement on her rights, to the contrary, it is the natural process.  If you CHOOSE to say things you should not just because you can, then you must prepare to face the consequences.  She CHOSE to use cross hairs on that map, she has that right, and the American people have equal right to judge her actions.

(5) "Stop calling your sibling names"  Ok...once again...I am guilty of this as well.  Just a brief perusal of my blog will show  exactly how I feel about Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and a few others.  My treatment of the Tea Party has not been nice at all.  Sometimes in the heat of the moment we say things that are not fitting of us as an intelligent species.  How many times have we told our kids, "If you don't have anything nice to say...then don't say it?"  This is good advice for all of us to follow. Will I do it again at some point in the future?  Probably.  We all will and do.  That does not change the fact that we should become more aware about it and learn to soften our words. Vehement conversation and intelligent conversation rarely take place at the same time.

(6) "If jumps off a bridge are you going to jump after them?"  One of the most frequent defenses I hear for the tone of our national conversation is, "Well they do it too and heck THEY are worse!"  Really? Are we THAT juvenile as to think that just because the other side is violent, petty, childish and immature that it is ok and justifiable to behave the same way?  We are, as we tell our children, just "lowering ourselves to their level." Which is never a good thing.

These are simple rules that we apply at our house, with our children in the hopes that our houses become homes and our families become a little piece of heaven on earth.  Imagine if we all just took one big "time out" and reflected on these rules and applied them to our lives and our own behavior.  Just maybe we could live up to the expectations of a bright eyed smiling girl who went to see her Congresswoman with the bright eyed hopes and innocent expectations of a child. This would be a much better world for it..that much is for sure.

Please watch the following special comment by Keith Olbermann...Truer words Have not been spoken...


Iris Silk said...

Thoughtfully written and well-expressed, Julio!


Musings of a Madman Copyright © 2010 | Designed by: Compartidisimo