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Lily Eskelsen's picture

Christina Green was nine years old. She was born on a hateful day, September 11, 2001, the day the Twin Towers fell. She died on a hateful day when a man opened fire at a crowd gathered in a Tucson parking lot to meet their Congresswoman.

I just attended a program to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that the National Education Association has held for our staff in our auditorium in the basement each year for over twenty years.

Nine year old children danced and played the drums and recited stirring, inspirational words for us. And we applauded and cried and laughed and encouraged.

We are an education union, and we like having children remind us who’s ultimately counting on us to do the right thing.

Dr. King was killed by hate on a hateful day. And yet in that hour’s program, there was nothing but joy. Gorgeous children of every race and color stood before us, proud of their talents and nervous and wiggling and excited. They made us feel young. They made us open our hearts and take them in and love them.

There is a connection between Dr. King and Christina. But hate is not it. Their death by hate and violence is not their common denominator. They are connected by the love that surrounded their lives. Love is their power.

I’m honoring them both by turning off the television. When the first onslaughts of blame and finger pointing began, I was dismayed. But as the hate on both sides ratcheted up, I remembered that I was in charge. Televisions, even the new, complicated ones that need three remote controls, still come with an off switch.

We are in mourning. Mourners need comfort. The “news” programs have become a Lucha Libre of professional wrestling commentators that pull each other’s hair and spit innuendo and vitriol every hour on the hour. They need us to be part of the show. It’s a routine now.

We’re the spectators who root for our comic hero to smack down the other side’s comic hero over some political issue or another. But this time, a little girl had died. And even then, they could not help themselves from scripting it into the show. They could not stop even for a little girl and those who mourned her.

So I stopped them. With the off switch.

And I will tell everyone within the sound of my voice to stop them, because they cannot help themselves.

Stop the anger. This is a time for tears. Stop the blaming. This is a time to hold each other. Mourn. Do not give into the insanity that took lives.

Hate no one. Blame no one. Find comfort. Think about this remarkable little girl. She was a joy. A kind child who wanted to do good. She was loved and that love will stay.

Think what the great Dr. King left behind. He was brave. He was a peaceful man. He was loved and that love has stayed.

We are in mourning. Hate is the cause. But hate cannot heal. Let it go. We are in mourning. Only love will comfort us. Each of us is in charge. We are in mourning.

Show respect. Turn off the hate.

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