Sunday, January 8, 2012

For Christina

I'd like to remind everyone of what we could have learned one year ago today.

You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations –- to try and pose some order on the chaos and make sense out of that which seems senseless...

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -– at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do -– it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds...

As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together...

We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame -– but rather, how well we have loved -- and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.

Of course those are the words of President Obama at the memorial held in Tuscon four days later. He reminded us of our better angels and how, out of a senseless act, could come a commitment to what's really important.

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.


  1. Thank you for this very touching tribute. Violence is not anonymous. It hurts real people.

  2. Thanks Squirrel.

    I needed this reminder today after starting it off watching the Republican debate. It immediately cleared my mind of all the toxicity.

  3. You're a better person than I am, Smartypants, for watching the Republican debate. I couldn't handle it, so I was choosing photos for a website I may be putting up soon.

    I discovered your site last week thanks to the BPI Squirrel (he's so smart!) and the other folks at BPI Campus. Your post today reminds us (and sometimes I do need the reminder) of what is important in the world. I look at my teenage daughter, and I am reminded what we are working for, and what others want to destroy to feed their greed. Thank you for the reminder. Excuse me now, I need to go hug a certain Kidlet.

  4. Welcome trs!

    "Excuse me now, I need to go hug a certain Kidlet."!

  5. Smartypants what a beautiful written tribute to Christina. Thank you.

  6. Ohhh Smartypants. ***BIG HUG*** :>)