November 1, 2012

Gabby Giffords Helps Us Remember the Best Part of Who We Are. ~ Peggy Reskin

Source: democraticunderground.com via Connie on Pinterest

A reminder in this hot election season

How we see the world and what we care about are defined by our spiritual perspective. However we might define that for ourselves, that place is different for all of us, born of the tangible and intangible make up of our lives.

As unique as it is to each of us, there are places that are the same that bring us together.

It’s where we go and where we end up.

For instance, we all watched the stunning debt crisis drama unfold last year, as the President and a discordant Congress moved toward the date of August 2, 2011—the so called fiscal cliff. It was impossible not to see or hear the threats of potential disaster from the media, on our cell phones, on the radio, on TV and on the internet. Our response might have been to distance ourselves from the emotional content as it escalated with expert after expert, politician after politician, stating random and threatening viewpoints.

For some of us, the best response was to ignore and immure ourselves as the repetition and emotional content accelerated daily. This non-response becomes a response really, as a means to steer clear of the sense of helplessness. It was not that far away from watching a hair pulling bar fight between people you’re relying on to keep sane. Days dragged on and so did dire and hostile comments, we witnessed a President getting more gray hair before our very eyes.

And then, in the midst of the gloom and doom without announcement, there was suddenly an opening. There was a flurry around one congresswoman from Arizona who appeared on the floor. Known to us all, she had quietly come with her astronaut husband to the congress floor. It was stated that only Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Wasserman, also of Arizona, were aware she would be coming. To see the response of the congressmen and women towards her was to lift the level of humanity right there with the congress and with the nation. Because she couldn’t let her vote on the debt crisis not be represented, Gabby Giffords stood quietly smiling. Her injuries having taken a backseat to the issues of the nation in the moment, she raised her hand and waved to the floor of congress as a growing roar of acknowledgement of her presence radiated and filled the room.

Republicans and Democrats, who seconds before held themselves to harsh polarizations and defense, moved toward her, tears came down the faces of so many. Gabby was a portrait and a reflection of all that is alive and cannot be extinguished regardless of the strife, the acrimony.

Her soft strength impacted one and all, and many of us at home who happened to be watching found ourselves weeping. Weeping for the celebration of her return to the floor of congress after her life threatening assault, weeping at the miracle of seeing how each congressperson around her was no longer their identity, their party position, but a human being rejoicing in the face of the courage and real strength of this delicate, beautiful and surmountably present congress woman: Gabby Giffords.

That was a moment, a time to see what we truly value and what sustains our lives in this moment of truth on the congressional floor. That is who we really are, and she brought the congress and those of us witnessing this experience a return to ourselves.

The best part of who we are was alive and responding to the grace and grit of this amazing woman, and to the hopes and dreams we all carry, Republican or Democrat.

That is where we come from, that is where we want to go in this election and in the future we want to create for our country.


Peggy Reskin came to Berkeley from Atlanta in 1970, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1980, Pacific School of Religion Masters Program in Religion and Society. She never left, finding the variety of people and experiences rich and constantly changing. From the energy and stimulation provided by the University, to the flatlands and hills, life, it all matters in Berkeley. It is the quality of passionate participation that Peggy brings to her writing and to her life. She has been a writer in the past three years as the Berkeley Community Examiner for examiner.com, as well as Open Salon, Reddit, Current, Stumbleupon, momsrising, UC Berkeley Democrats and Tumblr. The focus of her writings have all been to give light, meaning and direction to our lives with information and experience that engages our care of the world.


Editor: Maja Despot


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