Rhonda Cagle

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Eyes Wide Open

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm

For the past few days, I’ve been doing a lot of listening. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was nearly killed for doing exactly this so I thought it was the least I could do in the days following her attempted assassination and the massacre of six others.

Since Saturday, I’ve kept my mouth shut and my ears opened.

I’ve listened to family members remember our neighbors lost. A mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother – a Republican – who prided herself on cooking amazing holiday dinners for her family decided to go and get to know a Democratic Congresswoman who had impressed her. A pastor, known for his work in clothing and feeding the needy within the community, had decided to stop and ask one or two questions before going to breakfast with his wife. A nine-year-old little girl, recently elected to her student council, wanted to meet her congresswoman and learn more about how democracy and our nation works.

By now, we all know what happened next. A few seconds and an empty 30-round clip later, the blood of our neighbors and the lifeblood of our country ran in the streets of a previously quiet Western town.

In the following days, I’ve listened as people have mourned the loss of lives… grieved the pain of the wounded… and wondered where to lay the blame. And I’ve listened as the conversation has turned to examine the tenor and tone of the political discourse within our nation. And I’ve heard people become increasingly defensive about this violence being the act of a heinous and unbalanced individual.

It was.

But is this really the point?

Deserved or not, this moment in our national history has brought us – albeit kicking and screaming – back to the doorstep of civility and respect. It’s brought into focus the fact that our words fall on the ears of the healthy and the fragile, the balanced and the unhinged. And our words have power. Power to unite and power to divide. Power to heal and power to wound. Power to inspire and power to disillusion.

The fact that our nation is finally having this conversation for any reason is nothing short of a miracle. No less so than Congresswoman Giffords opening her eyes for the first time since her shooting.

If she can open her eyes after experiencing such reckless hate, surely we can do the same.

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