BOSTON (CBS) – If you watched the news coverage yesterday of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ tendering her resignation from Congress – or saw her YouTube video saying goodbye to her constituents – without becoming emotional, you’re a lot more stoic than me.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
Giffords has been a national model of courage during her recovery from near-fatal gunshot wounds suffered at the hand of a lunatic in Tucson just over a year ago.
You’ll recall how that shooting spree touched off an ugly round of partisan finger-pointing about our political climate, which only subsided when it became clear that severe mental illness, not political rhetoric, was the likeliest cause.
But yesterday on the floor of the House, the outpouring of admiration and emotional support for Giffords was bi-partisan, because there are some things that transcend politics.
And thankfully for those who despair at times about the human condition, especially when we watch our political culture in action, empathy for victims – of violence, natural disaster, or disease – is one of those transcendent things.
When we see someone struck down by circumstances beyond their control, we naturally think: there but for the grace of God go I.
And that thought humbles us.
All of a sudden, we are reminded that our good health, if we’re lucky enough to have it, is fragile, subject to the whim of cancer, Mother Nature, or a random act of violence.
Our wealth and well-being and self-esteem offer little or no defense against them.
Stripped of those artificial defenses by the sight of what could happen, we are forced to confront our own humanity and vulnerability, and recognize – if we had somehow forgotten – that if we don’t have the love and support of family, friends and community at the moment of crisis, then we have nothing.
Gabrielle Giffords has given all of us a precious gift – the proof that with love and great courage, we, too, might be able to survive the worst.
We needed that.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.