In the wake of the attempted assassination of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, many have asked what drives a person to open fire on a peacefully assembled crowd and what something like this says about the United States. For children these questions can be particularly confusing and difficult. To help cope, first lady Michelle Obama released an open letter to parents across the United States yesterday offering ways to talk to children about the heartbreaking events in Arizona and lessons we can all take away from the tragedy.
“In the days and weeks ahead, as we struggle with these issues ourselves, many of us will find that our children are struggling with them as well. The questions my daughters have asked are the same ones that many of your children will have – and they don’t lend themselves to easy answers. But they will provide an opportunity for us as parents to teach some valuable lessons – about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.
“We can teach our children that here in America, we embrace each other, and support each other, in times of crisis. And we can help them do that in their own small way – whether it’s by sending a letter, or saying a prayer, or just keeping the victims and their families in their thoughts.
“We can teach them the value of tolerance – the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree.
“We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it.”