UPDATED January 25, 2012: Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from Arizona stepped down to work on her recovery. It has been a year since she was shot in Tuscon at a political event. During her absence, her collegues stepped-up and helped be the voice for her consituents. She was lauded by friends and collegues alike for her personal courage and service to her country. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said, “My grandmother used to say that there is nothing more powerful than a woman who has made up her mind…Gabby Giffords has always been that woman. She is compassionate, tenacious and relentless in her love for our country.”
January 10, 2011
A political event in a Tucson supermarket parking lot turned deadly January 8th, 2011 when a lone gunman opened fire. The shooter, 22 year-old Jared Lee Loughner, is in custody and is expected to be charged with the attempted assassination of US Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, whom he shot in the head and is fighting for her life in an intensive care unit. He also faces two counts of murdering a federal employee, U.S. District Judge John Roll, and more counts of attempted assassination of a federal government employee, but has been declared incompetent to stand trial. A new evaluation of his competency is due January 25,2012. He has been assigned the lawyer who defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
To pile more tragedy on top of tragedy, 6 people were killed – among them was third grader Christina Taylor Green, born on 9/11, who was at the “Congress on the Corner” event because of her interest in government and had been elected to the student council at Tucson’s Mesa Verde elementary school. As classes resumed Monday morning, the community is figuring out how to explain to all the students that their classmate was gun downed at the Safeway?! Associate Superintendent, Todd Jaeger, said that teachers would meet with psychologists to discuss Christina’s death with all the students. “One of the things we know is that we have to be honest with kids and answer their questions…without adding to their angst,” he said.
Meanwhile, Loughner, who has not spoken a word to authorities while in custody, is being described as a loner and social outcast who dropped out of college and was rejected by the military. Prosecutors are alleging that he had scribbled on an envelope “my assassination,“ before leaving for the event. Not sure what that means exactly, but likely that he was planning to kill.
So, the first thing everyone does is point fingers and try to cast blame. All over the media we are hearing that inflammatory political rhetoric might have something to do with pushing this guy over the edge (for example, Sarah Palin’s infamous “don’t retreat, reload” rally cry, as well as her map with crosshairs over different congressional districts, including Tucson…and a Florida campaign manager who said “if ballots don’t work, we’ll use bullets”). The person who is to blame is the one who pulled the trigger, but what responsibility do the rest of us have in pushing people’s buttons?
Our kids learn how to push buttons at a very early age…so, do our husbands, for that matter?! They do it to get our attention and to elicit a response, right?! We either let them or we don’t – we have the power to control our reactions, but sometimes, they just know what buttons to push to drive us mad. What do you think MAMAs – can a constant barrage of negativity and partisan bashing push someone right over the edge? Are there some silent citizens who hear those wielding the biggest microphones and are incited to violence because of what they hear and feel? Are we pushing too many buttons and creating too much noise to try and rile people up? Because of the economy and the wars, we are a nation that seems “locked and loaded” already, right on the edge. We are craving a connectedness and a compassion that seems missing in our society. We are turning on each other, instead of turning to each other. So, after our country’s MOMent of silence out of respect for those injured and murdered, we cannot stay silent anymore. We have to speak up and call out dangerous rhetoric for what it is – dangerous and divisive. We don’t have to change our opinions or our message, just the delivery of the message.
As the moms of America, it is our responsibility to raise kids who are connected, secure people that become positive contributors to society. People who don’t snap, crackle or pop under the constant barrage of sensational stories and inflammatory rhetoric. So, what did this boy’s MAMA do wrong? He lived under her roof and clearly need help – why didn’t he get it? How do we teach our kids to filter information, think for themselves and be a responsible, healthy and productive member of society? To have a thick skin and handle the pressures around them, to vent constructively instead of popping? How do we keep them engaged and empower them to be part of our country’s solutions, not part of the problems? How can O-MAMAs wrap our arms around our kids, and our country, and bring us together in our time of crisis?