View From The Middle
I t was a time to be philosophical and stand back — very, very objectively — and take a long look at our elected officials; not with a jaundiced squint this time; not with a feeling of something sour caught between your back teeth and the inside of your cheek, but with a positive feeling; with a feeling of confidence and affirmation.
How often, lately, have we thought of these people whom we have put into a position as our representatives not only in the U.S. Congress, but also in our city and state legislatures, in such a negative light? Justly so! Every time we turn around there are adverse factors crowding what could possibly have been positive breakthroughs in government; in society; in just plain day-to-day life. A Congressman is castigated for underhanded tactics — a state senator is accused — nay, admits to — corruption. Right on our own doorstep! We have no recourse than to look askance and practically tell our children, “Government is not the way to go! Take another path! Be an astronaut! Be a plumber. But stay away from politics!”
Then….then…we see an exposition such as last week’s farewell in Congress to Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords when she tendered her resignation from that body amid cheers that had to warm the heart of even the most grizzled observer. There were tears from every corner of the floor of the House of Representatives and emotions rang to a peak as her comrades who had served with her through her five years in office said goodbye.
It was a sad day a year ago when she stood behind a lectern in Tucson ready to make a speech and a crazed gunman shot her in the head. His bullets killed four others, including a nine-year-old girl who had come to see the congresswoman in action and get a taste of politics from the grassroots. It took Giffords a full year to recover to the point where she could go to her workplace in Washington, D.C. and quietly resign so she might be able to go back to her Arizona home and get her health back completely. Everyone wished her good luck. Everyone still wishes her good luck and good health.
But we should all give her a vote of thanks, too. Not only for what she did in her exemplary life before and during the horror she went through and for showing us all what courage and fortitude and pure grit can do, but for showing us the — yes — positive side of all those people we had been chastising for all these years.
Yes, those people we have voted into elected office do have a positive, relatively pure side. No matter how smoke-filled the rooms had been, there has always been a feeling of patriotism and empathy for the American Way. It takes special occasions, like the Giffords’ farewell, that bring those purity of purpose factors to mind. Did you see the tears? Did you hear the voices of those fellow workers of the Congresswoman as they praised her not for what she had done nor the way she had done it, but for the sense of character she brought to the profession to which she had been elected three terms ago. The way she handled herself and met her special challenges during the past year and during her grand exit, she made Congress proud. She made the American people proud!
Yes, we should give thanks that this auspicious occasion in praise of Gabby Giffords gave us a chance to be introspective and, while not being naïve and taking anything for granted, might allow us to take a second look at all of our elected representatives perhaps now in a more positive light.