January 8, 2011, Americans were shocked by the unthinkable violence in Arizona. A shooting at a political event. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords forever changed, six people dead and 13 others wounded.
One of those killed was 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green. Born on September 11th, 2001, Christina was a living symbol of hope that persisted despite the tragedy our country faced that day. President Obama spoke about Christina in his speech at the Tucson memorial a few days later:
"I want to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it."
The President was imploring us to be better as a nation for Christina. Better, so that no parent, no mother would ever have to endure the loss of a child again. And if they did for whatever reason, that justice would be fair and swift.
I couldn't help but think about Christina this week and wonder just how well we have lived up to President Obama's challenge. For Sabrina Fulton, we still have a ways to go. She spoke out this week after the killer of her son, George Zimmerman, said in an interview on FOX News, that the events leading to the death of Trayvon Martin were part of "God's plan."
Fulton: "I wish Trayvon was here to tell his side of the story. I don't believe that it's God's plan for him to kill an innocent teenager."
But Trayvon can't be here to tell his side of the story. He was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on February 26th. His mother is hoping that justice for her child is also part of God's plan. She is praying that the laws of the state of Florida will not shield his killer.
Then there's Encarnacion Romero, a Guatemalen woman who was living and working in Missouri. She was arrested in an immigration sting on May 22nd, 2007. This past Wednesday, a judge terminated her parental rights to her 5-year-old son on the grounds that she abandoned him.
Abandoned him? Because she was arrested for her immigration status? The ruling leaves the door open for a Missouri couple to adopt Romero's son as their own. A mother separated from her child, by laws more interested in punishing her than ensuring a just outcome.
And what about Aruna Vallabhaneni? Aruna left India in 1997 to escape repeated abuse by her husband. Abuse that led to a broken nose which left her with no sense of smell. And a kick in the stomach that was so brutal she had to have a hysterectomy at 28. She had to leave her children behind. After 15 years she was finally granted asylum by the United States last month. In 2008 Aruna was reunited with her daughter but has yet to see her son. Fifteen years of separation because our laws didn't give her justice.
And of course, the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado on Friday, which separated - forever - too many parents from their children. But a little ray of hope in the midst of so much loss, the survival of the youngest among the victims. A three-month old caught in the chaos, who thankfully survived.
Too often our politics, our laws, our policies, and even our national violence separate mothers from the children they love. But the little miracle among all the death in Colorado this week is a reminder that all is not lost. President Obama told us to be better and to live up to the expectations of young Christina Taylor-Green. But to do that we can't solely rely on miracles. We have to craft a safer world and one that ensures that mothers their kids are protected from all the things that separate them from one another.