January 8th, 2011 was a day of inexplicable evil in Tuscon, Arizona. Six people were left dead and many more were injured when a lone gunman fired at a crowd gathered to speak with U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords, the intended target, suffered a critical gunshot wound to the head. While the country screamed about the senselessness of the crime, my thoughts were in a different place. I truly believe we choose our life experiences--particularly the big ones, and I was wondering what the purpose of such a horrifying act could be.
My thoughts and prayers were with all the victims and their families, but when I heard that Representative Giffords was still alive after being shot in the head, many of my thoughts focused on her. Within the next day or two, I learned that the bullet had affected just the left side of her brain (which is also why it did not kill her). What intrigued me about this fact was what I knew about the left side's function.
Several months prior, I had watched an insightful video of a talk given by a brain researcher named Jill Bolte Taylor. (You can watch this amazing video here: http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html ) In it, she talks about the experience she had when a stroke affected the left side of her brain. Being a scientist, Dr. Taylor had a rather concrete, rational view of the world. The left side of the brain is where most rational thought comes from. When the stroke began to shut this rational side down, Dr. Taylor experienced a world she had not experienced before--the limitless consciousness of the right brain. She finally understood there was more to life than our individual selves. There is a place where we truly are One with the Universe and everything in it.
I obviously don't know Representative Giffords personally, yet from reports I have gathered she is an incredibly hard-working, thoughtful, rational sort of person. When I learned the rational part of her brain had been affected, my first thought was, "Maybe this will give her the insight she needs to make decisions based on an expanded awareness of the Universe instead of the usual limited thoughts of the rational mind! This is exactly the way politicians need to think in order to get us out of the mess our rational minds have gotten us into!"
Granted, this is speculation on my part, but I can see the possibilites! It is no accident Giffords is still alive and making rapid progress. Just because the experience hasn't come full circle yet doesn't make it bad. If nothing else, she has already inspired countless individuals around the world by her courage, strength and determination as well as focused a spotlight on brain injury (in my view though, this is probably just icing on the cake). There is no doubt the experience is changing Giffords.
When we see something evil, we tend to focus on the misery such an experience brings. I'm here to say, there is another side to evil. It's the side that says, "We can endure, we will get stronger and we will learn in the process!" The other side of evil makes us better, and better is what we came here to be.