I'm trying to work, but it isn't working. My mind keeps travelling to Connecticut, and envisioning all sorts of things that I desperately wish were some horrible nightmare. I won't go on and on about my feelings regarding such a senseless tragedy- I think an entire nation shares my horror and disbelief.
What I will say is this: in the aftermath of this tragedy- as well as the horrors at Clackamas Town Center earlier this week- there is bound to be a flare up debate, hard feelings, blame and large-scale talks of problem solving. I'm no longer on Facebook, but I hear it is ablaze with talk of the shooting and arguments about where to go from here. Of course we, as a country, need to have a dialogue about how to keep these tragic incidents from happening. I don't want anyone to read this and think that isn't a priority in my mind. But, before we rush into that, I have a proposal: let us pause for a moment and each do something kind.
Today at work, a mom stood in my office in tears. We both have children who are the same age as students at this school. I think it would be impossible not to be affected and think "what if it was my child in that room?". We were talking about our feelings on it, our desire to keep our children innocent and untarnished by reports of these tragedies and, of course, what we can do to help. Before she left, she said: "I just don't know what to do. What are we supposed to do?". When she left, she was on her way to complete a volunteer Meals On Wheels route. I wished her a good route and she barely managed a smile- how can we smile, when our hearts are so heavy?
Suddenly, a thought occurred to me: She is doing exactly what she *should* do.
Let me explain.
We will never be able to eliminate the hurt, pain, and devastation that humankind imposes on one another. At any given moment, our children or community may be exposed to horrors beyond our understanding. But today, tomorrow...unless and until that happens, they can know kindness above the horror. The woman in my office, along with her children who deliver with her, spread love and kindness today despite the sinking feeling in her chest. The message that such an act sent was this: unthinkable tragedy can knock us over, but kindness gives us the strength to keep going.
Of course I will be sending prayers in the direction of those families affected by these recent tragedies. My hope is that they will comfort this community- a community which I will probably never visit, never have a personal connection to, never be able to help on a first-hand basis. But I will do more than that. I will make an effort to spread love and kindness, in random and unexpected ways, for as long as it takes to heal this nation.
I've been meaning to seek out an organization to volunteer with. I've been intending to drive around and place little thank you notes on the doorsteps of homes whose Christmas displays make me happy when I drive by. I've been trying to get better about smiling at strangers and going out of my way to hold doors open for people, even if it means waiting for them to catch up. Calling the Red Cross to schedule a blood donation is on my to-do list. I have kind of gotten out of the habit of "random acts of kindness", and I know that is a good habit to keep. This list of potential for spreading kindness grows longer the more I think of it, and I know I am not the only person with such a list in his or her head, who just hasn't gotten around to checking those line items off.
These acts will probably never directly affect the families of the victims in Connecticut, and I know that. But maybe, just maybe, it'll spread in their direction. And for me? It will leave me with the feeling that, however small, I have done something to help combat the horrors of evil we sometimes face in this world. I'm a person that wants to "do something" when faced with horror. This, for now, is my "something".
Please join me in this small gesture of remembrance and healing.