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Caring, not indifferent

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Congress has gone home for its Easter recess, and spring has arrived. Don’t you feel better? I do.

I love spring; it gives me a much-needed sense of renewal. It causes me to pause. I also love it when Congress goes home. It becomes peaceful in Washington, D.C.. We can hear ourselves think. The negativity that envelops this town (and nation) ceases. And in the quiet, old, warm feelings steal back; kind feelings reawaken.

The numbness I suspect we all experience from the constant jabbering and fighting fades. Things I had forgotten about, or even become indifferent to, are reborn and flood me with a tingling awareness.

That’s why I was almost jolted when I read a few words by Maria Shriver in her newsletter. “I’ve been thinking a lot,” she wrote, “about ... the pope’s statement that one of the greatest dangers we face is that of indifference.”

Shriver recalled from her growing-up years the same events I remember as a girl, a teenager and a young woman:

“I remember the world stopping in its tracks when a president gave a speech to the nation,” she wrote. “I remember time stood still when a man walked on the moon. I remember a nation that mourned and searched its soul when political leaders were gunned down in plain sight. I remember pictures of (starving) children from Biafra on the front of the newspaper causing the nation to talk.”

Today, events succeed one another in intensity, and then depart rapidly. They forcibly grab our attention, then we move on. “It seems like we focus but only for a moment when there is a tragedy like 9/11, Sandy Hook, Ft. Hood or last week’s stabbing at a high school in Pennsylvania by a young 16-year-old boy,” Shriver wrote.

Then she asked the questions that likely caused Pope Francis to care if we are becoming an indifferent world.

“I’m wondering what’s happening to us?” she wrote. “To our children? To our sense of community? To our empathy?

“How can we come together more in our politics, in our opinions, in our races, our genders? I worry we are moving too fast, digesting too much and nothing is landing.”

Some things are landing. Across our country this past week, I saw signs that good people still stop and reflect, and draw strength from one another. In Boston, a remarkable community came together to remember the marathon bombing of a year ago. It gave me good chills, and goose bumps, to see how the people of Boston helped the injured to recover; to think on the faith and character they exhibited in the tragedy, and to ponder the resilience they’ve shown.

(Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News, and a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine.)

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