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Re-evaluating politics in rememberance of Christina Taylor Green

Eileen Flanagan and Josh Varanelli | Friday, January 21, 2011

Christina Taylor Green. Until a few days ago, we didn’t know Christina. We weren’t aware of this vibrant nine-year-old’s budding interest in politics. We remained ignorant of her love for swimming, gymnastics and baseball. We had no idea she delighted in picking blackberries. Now, we will never forget her name. Christina. Taylor. Green.

Given to us on September 11, 2001 — she was a fresh soul, unaware of the tumult and turmoil of a place she would so briefly call home. Perhaps it came with the gravity of being born on such a grave occasion, or maybe she had a natural aptitude for the contemplative, but Christina possessed an uncanny wisdom for her novel nine years. She interpreted the events of 9/11 not as a doomed end, but as an opportunity to transcend the wickedness of the moment — that under such duress and tragedy, courage takes root, greatness becomes possible.

Christina’s life ended in an irrational fit of violence. She had spunk, intelligence and vision — so much potential whisked away with a whiz of metal. If she would have lived, we are sure she would have done great things for the world. But she is gone. And we endure. In a life taken so senselessly, is it possible to derive meaning?

When someone dies, what’s truly important is brought sharply into focus. Things that once seemed paramount become inconsequential, our mundane daily strife now seems laughable and the prism through which we view the world widens. Death causes us to reflect and re-evaluate. Death clarifies life.

Christina Taylor Green’s death brings great clarity and perspective to American political life. The things we once considered imperative no longer matter. The words we so carelessly slung at each other, the ceaseless bickering, and the aggrandized sense of self seem petty, immature and selfish. These actions absolutely did not cause the gunman to fire those shots; however, it should not prevent us from examining our political consciences. Too often we shout, bludgeon and

generalize. We pass judgments about people, fellow Americans, we know nothing about.

That is not to say we should never disagree. We are America. We are a government composed by the greatest minds of the time, who heartily disagreed about the method and manner our government should be run. Though the Founding Fathers were not one conglomerate group, they agreed on this: the importance of this nation transcended the importance of their own egos. For the sake of Christina and this country, we must strive to emulate their example. Will we choose the politics of difficulty — of honest discussion, of setting aside ego, of selflessness? Or will we fall victim to the ever enticing and easy politics of fear?

We desperately hope Christina was right. We hope that through great tragedy comes great strength, great purpose, great meaning. We hope that tragedy of Tucson inspires the courage to put aside our egos and compromise, the reason to work towards a common good and the wisdom to realize this country is bigger than petty partisan bickering.

We cannot change Washington instantaneously, we cannot force people to adopt our mentality; however, how we choose to act at this specific juncture in time is entirely within our realm of control. We challenge you to go to lunch with someone you disagree with, politically or otherwise (present this article as a token of goodwill if you have to). We challenge you to find out what’s important to them, to listen, to re-evaluate, to be great.

Christina Taylor Green entered the world on a day of wickedness, let the day she left be one to inspire transcendence.

Eileen Flanagan is a senior and the Co-President of the Notre Dame College Democrats Committee. She can be reached at Eileen.E.Flanagan.42@nd.edu

Josh Varanelli is a senior and the President of the Notre Dame College Republicans Committee. He can be reached at Joshua.C.Varanelli.1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the authors and not necessarily those of The Observer.