The carnage in Tucson deservedly has generated national soul-searching.
Are we too mean in our political discourse? Is our society getting more dangerous? Are we obsessed with gun violence or just too sick to really tell?
In the midst of such debate, it's worth thinking of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old who was one of six people killed during the attempt to assassinate a congresswoman last weekend.
We mourn with her family and friends for a life unfairly taken too soon. But the short life she lived shines still.
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Born on Sept. 11, 2001 — one of the darkest days in this nation's history — she considered her presence on this Earth significant and wanted to make the world better, according to family members. She had been featured in a book, Faces of Hope, showcasing a child from each state born on that day.
The only girl on her Little League baseball team, Christina had just been elected to her school's student council. Meeting her congresswoman was a step toward preparing herself for the responsibility of service.
No anti-government rantings or conspiracy theories tainted her optimism. Government was a force for good; she had embraced her citizenship and was engaged in the democratic process.
It's comforting to imagine her giggling with excitement as girls often do at that age.
It's hard to know about a child whose last moments included respect for an elected official, belief in democracy and the certainty that one person can make a difference and not feel inspired by this nation's ideals — and chastened when our own actions fall short.