For an ephemeral moment, there seemed to be pause in Washington backstabbing, a fleeting feeling of synergy as we silently celebrated the bravery of those who serve our nation. For one instant, the individuals in the Chamber, as well as those watching on television sets around the country, were not democrats or republicans, rich or poor, young or old, male or female. They were citizens, colleagues, community members, and even friends.
The President summoned all U.S. citizens to manifest the altruism and collaboration displayed by members of our military, rallying us to work together to create a better future with more educated citizens, higher paying jobs, clean energy, and security from threatening oil-rich nations.
Obama supporters say that the address was unifying. Critics claim that it was redundant, even defiant, and laced with politics as usual.
But, interestingly, on the day following Obama’s State of the Union, politics were indisputably set aside when Representative Gabby Giffords (D-Arizona) resigned her seat—not because she was under any pressure to do so, but because she knew it was the right thing to do. The extraordinary woman who miraculously survived an almost certainly fatal gunshot to the head disarmed an entrenched Congress and softened the hearts of a nation.
After viewing the news reports covering Giffords’ resignation, in which members of Congress displayed unmasked human emotion, I can’t help but wonder—must our political pendulum swing irresistibly from compassionate back to cutthroat?
Must we endure a violent assault on human dignity and life itself to enable us to shed our partisan straightjackets and release our civility? Is that degree of trauma necessary in order for us to listen to one another’s voices with tolerance?
The President asked us to return to our core American values, to level the playing field for everyone, so that we can create a better future. Giffords’ remarkable courage reminds us to appreciate the magical gift of life. It seems to me that the most effective way for us to actualize these things is for each of us to embrace this precious opportunity for self-determination.
How do you think that we can become a more civil society? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.
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Posted: 1/26/2012 10:09:33 AM by
Mary Kestner | with 0 comments