Make no mistake about it, the shooting outside an Arizona grocery store last week that seriously injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed six people, and wounded 13 others was a horrible manifestation of the bitter and ugly political times we live in.
As everyone knows by now, the assassination attempt by 22 year-old Jared Lee Loughner sent a bullet through Giffords’ brain, leaving her in critical condition, and also took the lives, among others, of U.S. District Judge John Roll, and 9 year-old Christina Green.
A 9 year-old girl that, by all accounts, was smart and talented, and loved life, baseball, dancing and politics, Christina attended the event because she had just been elected to the student council at her school and was interested in government.
Government and politics were actually activities she aspired to. She genuinely believed they were effective ways to change lives, make the world a better place and prevent the kind of violence that marked both her birth and her death.
Christina was born on Sept. 11, 2001 – the infamous 9/11. In fact, she was proud she was born on this date and felt her birth in the midst of such tragedy provided “a note of hope.”
There is a quote you may have heard before that says, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
Well, they most certainly are and the fact there were numerous children across this country born on Sept 11, 2001 shows not only that life and hope spring eternal, even amidst death and destruction, but that we have to look beyond our own turmoil to know and understand that our children are inheriting and reflecting the world we give them.
So I ask, what messages are we giving them? What messages did we give Christina Green?
She was born, nine years ago, amidst the chaos created by international politics, and yet she wanted to engage in politics to try and eliminate the kind of vitriol and death that surrounded her birth. And sadly, it looks as if political vitriol played a huge role in eliminating her young life.
As a society, what are we doing? At what point does enough become enough? Our networks and politicians spew unadulterated hate across the airwaves 24/7 and then we act as if this was unexpected?
Maybe this tragedy touched me so deeply because I thought of my own children and particularly of my son Trey who just turned 10 (a day before this tragedy) and who also loves politics. But I’m not just talking about any one child…I’m talking about all of our children who really just want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and to know that someone loves them unconditionally.
And sadly, even though it took the loss of precious lives to do it, I’m praying that this tragedy may be a turning point in our society.
For it is imperative that we work to build our children a much better society than we have right now so we can give them messages of love and hope to carry into the future.
Stephanie Robinson is President and CEO of The Jamestown Project, a national think tank focused on democracy. She is an author, a Lecturer on Law at the Harvard Law School and former Chief Counsel to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Stephanie reaches 8 to 10 million listeners each week as political commentator for the popular radio venue, The Tom Joyner Morning Show.