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Living Up to Our Kids' Expectations

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Wednesday night was the memorial for nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green and the other victims of the Jan. 8 tragedy, which killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life. I'm still stunned with sadness by the horrible events of last Saturday.

As the mother of two children, one around the age of Christina who's attended similar congressional events with me, I ache for the families.

What President Obama said in the memorial service resonated deeply:

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.

We stand behind the president's call to do everything we can to make sure our country lives up to our children's expectations.

As mothers, fathers, and grandparents we have a unique and powerful voice, and now is the time to make our voices heard in a united call for kindness, decency, and goodness in our democracy.

For one small, first step toward increased national civility and unity in our democracy, Sen. Mark Udall is proposing that members of both political parties sit next to each other at this year's State of the Union address set for Jan. 25, instead of using the normal seating pattern, which is divided by party. It's past time to remember that we're more than just "elephants vs. donkeys."

Join me in signing our open letter asking every member of Congress to honor Christina-Taylor Green, along with the other victims of the Jan. 8 tragedy, and all of our children by living up to their expectations for a kind, decent, and fair democracy. Urge Congress to start in this direction with the small, first step of Republicans and Democrats sitting together during the State of the Union

And when you sign on, feel free to also take a moment to share what more you think members of Congress can do to live up to a democracy as fair and just as our nation's children imagine it. We'll share your comments with top Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate.

"It's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds," President Obama said during the memorial on Wednesday night.

In that pause, let's urge Congress to take a small first step forward toward talking together across party lines.

President Obama closed his speech on Wednesday speaking again of Christina. He said, "... we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit."

It's time for all of us to put our efforts toward the continued building of a nation that's worthy of all our children's expectations.

This blog is part of the Peaceful Revolution series that explores innovative ideas to strengthen America's families through public policies, business practices, and cultural change. Done in collaboration with MomsRising.org, read a new post here each week.

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