Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Love Letter to Rep Gabrielle Giffords and President Barack Obama in a World Gone Mad

The notion that inside our 30 to 90-year-old bodies resides the 10 to 14-year-old we once were, bewildered and wondering why no one sees that we are just playing an adult in the theater of life, is not a new one. For me, even though I learned in college that political and moral issues are complicated and frequently both sides of an issue can have merit (when faced with having to write a paper taking a side on euthanasia, I cheated and wrote a pro-paper for my moral issues class and an anti-speech for my speech class;) adulthood has been a time of disillusionment. Voting has always been a bitter pill to swallow as candidates never seemed to be ideal or, indeed make much sense, speaking from hateful and biased places and driven by fear. That is true today more than ever.

On Saturday, January 8th, 2011, while watching Fox News and waiting to hear the news of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, the channel replayed the attached interview and I would like to thank them for that. You see, before Saturday, although I had seen a picture of Rep. Giffords, I was largely unaware of her and had never heard her speak and on Saturday, before all of this backlash of who said or did what, I heard this interview and for the second time I fell a little in love with a politician.

Yes, I said for the second time.

You see that's why I voted for Barack Obama in November 2008. As I listened to him speak at some point along his campaign trail, for the first time I heard a rational voice in politics. For the first time, I heard someone with intelligence whose voice and attitude were unclouded by fear. I saw a man I could understand and relate to because he was saying what I was feeling. I'm not going to say he is completely unbiased. We are humans and we will always have some pet ideas or notions that are more important to us. It has always been my belief that healthcare is a hot topic for President Obama due to the death of his mother and education is one due to his love for his children. I see nothing wrong with that. Rather, by trying to fix a system that undoubtedly failed his mother, he is attempting to protect us all from facing that sad situation and by loving his children and wanting the best for them, he is attempting to help all of our children. That's what I see and during his time in the presidency, I have never once felt disillusioned or disappointed by President Barack Obama. When I listen to him, he still has a voice that shines with intelligence and is clear from irrational fears; but I do see a man who is largely a lone rational voice in a cacophony of rhetoric, biases, fear, petulance, and, increasingly, bullying behavior.

On that recent Saturday, when Fox News replayed Rep. Gifford's interview and I absently worried that no one was too badly injured and the death toll would be low, I was suddenly riveted to the voice on the television. I should say here, I guess, that I am an independent: I am not a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I may have voted for a Democrat in the last presidential election, but don't get me wrong, both parties are equals in disillusioning behavior and rhetoric. But, on that Saturday, for the second time I heard a politician's voice on the television and heard a person of intelligence, a voice clear of the angry byproducts of irrational fear and, frankly, one who refused to be drawn into the mudslinging and partisan fight that sensationalist newscasts enjoy for their very survival. I was immediately smitten by this gently jovial, charming intelligent woman and I knew, had the circumstances of my hearing her voice been different, had she ever been campaigning for my vote: she very likely would have gotten it.

So while my adult self remains trapped in a world of mudslinging and anger and irrational rhetoric, that 10-year-old inside is hoping for a Hail Mary play. She is hoping that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will not only survive, but thrive and choose once again to be her country's voice of reason. She is hoping to someday see her name on a ballot where Rep. Giffords can represent not just the 8th District of Arizona, but her too. If I were writing the comic book, that's the way it would be.

Let me also say that in no way do I mean any offense in regards to the death of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. I did not choose the analogy of an inner child around her age to capitalize upon her portion of the tragedy. I chose that age because it is the age when a human seems to be a "little adult" and, subsequently, seems to be the age I view my "secret" child-like inner voice of reason. It is somewhere around that age where a child seems to be more awake and aware of the world around her, yet still retains much of her childlike vision of magic and possibilities. Losing Christina at that age is an enormous loss to the world as we will never experience the gifts she may have had to give us and heart wrenching because she will never experience them herself.

If there is a God, let him take the victims of the Tucson shooting and their families in his hands and care for them at this time; but whether there is a God or not, let us please, stop all the blaming; stop all the arguing; stop all the violent rhetoric and stop all of the excusing the violent rhetoric. Let us remember that for every opinion you have; there is someone else with a different one. Someone who deserves to be heard and cares for their family just as much as you care for yours. Remember too, whatever mess you personally are in or this country is in, as Andy Andrews points out so eloquently in his self-help seminars, "you got here with your best thinking." No one ever thinks "how can I screw up my life as completely as possible?" - not even a country. So no matter how much "your best thinking" is telling you "I'm right - those other people are idiots," listen to the other side. Listen to the other side with as open a mind as you can muster, because everybody's "best thinking" can always use a little help. Try to be a little optimistic that maybe, just maybe, the world won't end if you don't always get your way. Try to find the graciousness that comes from true gratitude for the abundance that you have.

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