Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Metamorphosis on the Hill

Finally, the United States' debt ceiling has been raised. Living in the thick of it here in Washington, DC, the debt ceiling debates was all anyone around here could talk about. I'm grateful that it has been resolved and Congress and the White House can tackle other monumental issues before we have to talk about raising the ceiling again next year.

The one bright spot after weeks of Congressional ugliness occurred during the House of Representatives vote on the debt ceiling bill Monday night. Unexpectedly, Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) arrived to vote. Since surviving an assassination attempt in Tucson earlier this year, Giffords has been working on her recovery in hospitals and rehabilitation centers in Arizona and Texas and staying out of the spotlight. Although her appearance was different, Giffords did not look like a woman who suffered a near-fatal gunshot wound to her head only eight months ago. Instead, she looked resilient, strong and determined. In a statement to the media, she explained that she came back to Washington, DC for this vote because she wanted to ensure that the voices of her district's constituents were heard and noted.

Life often calls us to face challenges we never could have imagined. When arriving for that Saturday town hall meeting in January, Giffords and the other participants had no idea what the day would hold, how their lives would be changed. In just a few moments, the trajectory of Gifffords' life and the other victims morphed into something completely different. Those life-altering moments offer us the chance to morph into a butterfly seeking recovery and resilience, or remain a powerless victim of circumstance and others' destructive actions. Like Giffords, we must choose to morph into a resilient butterfly.

Giffords' appearance yesterday changed her colleagues in the room, as well as the citizens watching around the country. Her presence gave people hope that things could get better, and even stubborn politicians could be caring and empathetic. When she walked into the Capitol Building on Monday, she did not ask the world to treat her like a victim. She demanded them to see her as a courageous equal who can place country and others before herself. Perhaps if they had looked at the world through Gabby Giffords' eyes, this issue could have been resolved weeks ago. If only politicians acted like butterflies instead of limited, short-sighted caterpillars.

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