Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Christina and Zoe

Since the horrible events in Tucson, Arizona, my thoughts have been drawn to two little girls, both about nine years old. Had they met, these two vivacious, outgoing children might have been great friends, but their lives only intersected on a single day: September 11, 2001. On that bright Tuesday, as we know too well, Christina Taylor Greene was born, a symbol of hope in a terrible, frightening time. That very morning, Zoe Falkenberg, just two months shy of her 9th birthday, had boarded American Airlines flight 77 with her parents and 3-year-old sister on her way to an adventure in Australia.

Zoe's mom was a former colleague; we were also neighbors, members of the same babysitting co-op. September 11 will always summon up Zoe's face, and my still-confused horror that anyone could be so villainous as to look at that child and see a de-humanized, symbolic target for their hatred. Of all the victims in Tucson, it is Christina whose face and story haunt me, somehow joined now with Zoe in the sad trajectory of our recent past.

There were children born all over America on January 8, 2011. What kind of America awaits them in 2020? What can we do to break this destructive cycle of hatred, dehumanization and destruction? Minister better to poor in spirit? Pursue more just policies, here and abroad? Address our culture's embrace of violence? Speak to each other with respect and care? Turn away from those in the media who profit from inflaming our fear and anger?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. For the next Zoe, the next Christina and your children and mine. For Glenn Beck's children and Barack Obama's children. For all of us.

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