We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers-you can blame anyone, but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you want to change, you’re the one who has got to change. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it?
– Katharine Hepburn
First I would like to take a minute to say a prayer for those who have died and are injured in the Tucson Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday, January 8, 2011. I would also like to say thank you so much to the brave men and women who have helped throughout the process, especially those who sacrificed themselves for others. I only hope that, if I were presented with such a situation, not that I’m hoping for it, I would do the same. The entire incident is truly tragic and I do pray for the gunman. But I must say, my heart sank when I heard about the little 9-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green who died.
Kyle and I were watching the news last night and he didn’t know what happened. I try to get him to watch the news weekly. He doesn’t watch it alone, I’m right beside him explaining what is happening, so he gets an idea of the world, good or bad. On the weekends, I must say, I read the news on my phone, and not on TV much. But during the week, after I take Kyle to swimming class, and while I’m making dinner, I put the news on. He was watching it pretty intently last night about the Tucson shooting incident. He did ask me what happened and why. So of course I can only report the facts that I’ve heard. I don’t think at this moment anyone has a clue as to why.
As we continued to watch, the news took a spin and started to point fingers blaming others for the gunman’s actions. I heard them blame Rush Limbaugh. They pointed their finger at Sarah Palin, bringing up her comments on the crosshairs of Arizona when she was running for vice president. They also showed a picture of a map of the United States with certain states containing the crosshairs over specific areas, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Then they showed a clip of Sarah saying something along the lines of, “Never retreat, just reload.” Well, of course, all that means is that Sarah Palin did the shooting and she did it by announcing it publicly, thus convincing a young man to do the shooting in her name….REALLY? Are we such a country of finding any public figure to blame for the actions of others? Next, they’ll be saying that the gun jumped up in the gunman’s hand and went crazy shooting everyone. Now I’m not saying that these public figures shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions and verbiage throughout their career, they should, but for a complete tragedy like the Tucson shooting, no one should be blamed except the gunman. After all, we, as adult humans, are responsible for our own actions.
During the entire blaming game, Kyle was asking why. “Why are they blaming them?”, “Did Rush Limbaugh do that?” etc. Then when they started on Sarah Palin, Kyle just looked at me and threw his hands up. He turned his head to me with the most puzzled look on his face and said, “Now how can Sarah Palin shoot those people from Alaska?” What a pure and honest thought. He proceeded to say, “Now that’s impossible!” I must say that did bring a smile to my sorrow filled heart. Then he proceeded to say, “That was like years ago!” referring to comments when Sarah was running.
With that comment I have to explain, when Sarah Palin was running for vice president along side John McCain in the 2008 elections, I went with friends to see her in the Johnstown rally. It was a lot of fun, I got her autograph and had the opportunity to speak to her. Not a long conversation, but she seemed like a stellar lady. Her daughter, Piper, was passing out stickers saying Vote for Piper’s Mom. I thought that was awesome! Afterwards I went back to mom and dad’s to hang with Kyle and show him the pictures, my autographed sign, and the sticker. He just smiled and thought that was really cool. Now, mind you, he was about 7 years old.
Later, I got tickets to see Sarah Palin at the Latrobe Airport on Halloween, and this time I took Kyle. I had him excused from school and I woke that poor little cat up around 5am to stand in line for hours, and it was COLD. Then, Bill Russell, who was running for Congress, was going through the line, shaking hands. I got a picture of Kyle with Russell and he gave Kyle a T-shirt. Well, Kyle just loved the whole experience, especially when we saw the McCain/Palin plane. When Sarah came out, he had a hard time seeing. I tried to lift him up for as long as I could. We had our signs and people were cheering. He even looked at me with a puzzling look like, “Am I allowed to yell?” I started cheering and he got his cue and started bouncing around and yelling, “Sarah! Sarah!” We were very close to the front of the line ready to shake her hand, but then Kyle had to use the restroom. So out of the line we went…
I took Kyle back to school since they were having their Halloween parade. He gave his teacher one of his signs and he wore his Russell T-shirt for the rest of the day. When I watched him march around the school for their Halloween parade, I still saw his excitement. Then, when I went to pick him up after school, I saw Kyle surrounded by teachers. I thought, “O no what did he do?” Kyle saw me and pointed in my direction with a huge smile. The teachers came over and started asking me about the rally. Kyle just stood there like a little celebrity, he thought he was the coolest. I explained to the teachers that I want to teach Kyle to get involved now, it’s his American duty to be educated and aware of the issues that affect us all. From then on, Kyle recognized Sarah Palin on TV, especially now that there’s the show, Palin’s Alaska.
As we continued to watch the news, he brought up Sarah Palin and the little girl and he said, “She was born the same year I was, 2001.” I explained that she was a 9/11 baby. He then said, “My real daddy was going to work when the plane flew over him before it crashed.” I had to think about this, one of the planes crashed in Somerset, which at the time was not far from where Kyle and my brother lived. I’m not sure where he heard that, but I guess it could have been true.
Watching the news last night was not only a lesson for Kyle, but for myself as well. As parents, role models, etcetera, we need to be there to help guide children, monitor what they see and hear and especially help clarify the news and the world around us. That conversation taught me to listen because Kyle, as with many other children, have a lot to say and you just might learn something.