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« The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Americans | Main | ACTION: We're Falling Behind! »


People Carry On the Messages of Those Silenced

By Kari Rinker
July 1, 2009

Finding the positive amidst tragedy is a difficult feat. When the tragedy is the murder of someone loved and admired, this difficulty often becomes insurmountable. Defense mechanisms call for retreat and denial, fear and helplessness consume. All of the good, all of the light that once was, is extinguished and darkness remains. This is what happens when evil prevails. But evil does not always prevail. When people band together and choose to deny evil its victory, the opposite occurs… the opposite is inspiration. I have witnessed inspiration and it is beautiful, astounding and transformational.

Jana Mackey was the lobbyist for the Kansas National Organization for Women (NOW). She was a 25-year-old law school student at the University of Kansas. She was a feminist, an advocate and a friend to all. Jana was taken from us on July 3, 2008. A victim of domestic violence, her death was incredibly tragic and incredibly unnecessary. Her stepfather, Curt Brundgardt, stood in front of the 1100 people in attendance at her funeral and challenged them to pick up Jana’s torch, to do something good in their communities. He transformed a moment of tragedy, into a profoundly motivating call for change. Jana’s mom, Christie, has matched his resolve. Curt and Christie have refused to let evil prevail.

Over the course of the last year, I have watched Christie and Curt as they have tirelessly championed for the causes their daughter held dear. They have shared Jana’s story repeatedly to a variety of audiences both in the state of Kansas and nationally. The pace they keep is exhausting. Their energy, their devotion, their love for their daughter is constant. They have displayed remarkable perseverance. They have turned a heartbreaking event into inspiration.

The murder of Jana Mackey was enough tragedy to last a lifetime, yet here we are less than one year later, and we are grieving the loss of Dr. George Tiller. Dr Tiller was a first class provider of women’s reproductive healthcare services. He specialized in late-term abortions. He was harassed, his office was bombed, he was shot in both arms, he was continually dragged into court and yet he continued. He knew the importance of his work. He knew that women everywhere relied upon him. Like Jana, he was taken from us too soon. Dr. Tiller was shot in his house of worship on May 31, 2009. His death was incredibly tragic and incredibly unnecessary. His wife stood in front of hundreds of people at his funeral and sang.

Since Dr. Tiller’s assassination I have again seen something quite remarkable. I have once again seen tragedy transformed. Women and men in a community coming together, persevering and working for change. Hundreds gathered to mourn at candlelight vigils across the nation. When the clinic of Dr. Tiller was faced with another assault disguised as prayerful worship from those that harassed and condemned him while living, people came from across the city of Wichita and as far away as Pennsylvania to stand in opposition. They stood in the rain… after all that Dr. Tiller had done, it was the least that they could do. People are paying attention, they are becoming more vocal, and they are taking a stand in support of women. The people of Wichita have refused to let evil prevail. A heartbreaking event has once again inspired.

I have gained so much from living through these moments and watching these people. My sense of purpose grows stronger from having known them and also from having lost them. Evil loses, despite all of its efforts. Good prevails and the people carry on the messages of those silenced.


Comments (2)

Tanner Willbanks Author Profile Page:

A wonderful post! It is a pleasure to have you as a colleague here at Everyday Citizen!

Gina Author Profile Page:

This was beautifully written and very moving. Thanks for posting Kari!

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