Last night, in his speech at the Tucson memorial, President Obama called on us to live up to the image of democracy held by 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. This morning, Sam Stein had this to say at Huffpo:
Challenging an audience to live up to a child’s expectation would seem noteworthy only for the low setting of the bar.
I wonder if Sam Stein has ever known a 9-year-old. I have, and I can tell you that living up to your 9-year-old’s expectations is not a feat for the faint-hearted.
Christina Taylor Green was 9 years old. She had campaigned for and won a seat on her school’s student council. She was excited at the prospect of meeting her representative in the United States Congress. Her parents report that she volunteered to help with a charity that serves children. She was a little girl who still believed that she, personally, could make a difference in this world — that her actions and her words could help shape her class, her school, her country, her world.
She hadn’t yet reached the adolescent stage of cynicism and disillusionment where children lose that belief in their own ability to effect change. They stop believing in Santa Claus, they learn that their parents have clay feet and they lose that shiny certainty that yes, one person can have an impact on the world. They become a part of the apathetic crowd that doesn’t try because no matter what, the world will never change.
If I were to hazard a guess, I would guess that Christina still believed that her mother could protect her from anything, her father could overcome any adversity and that if someone, somehow, came up with a cure for cancer, the profit motives of the medical-pharmaceutical industry would not stand in the way of making it available to every person who needs it in this world. I suspect she had not yet learned to sort ideas and solutions into right and left, Republican and Democrat, Progressive and Independent.
Given the choice, I want to live in Christina’s world. Given the opportunity, I want to help move us toward becoming Christina’s country. Given the chance — which we all have as long as we are alive — I want to live up to Christina’s expectations, too.