Yesterday I was wrapped in a work bubble, completely concentrating on finishing tasks for fall semester so that I could enter final grades and begin prep work for spring semester, so I didn’t learn about the Sandy Hook tragedy until late in the afternoon. I didn’t finish working until late evening, though, so Facebook and the internet were the only sources available until this morning when I watched the news shows…and cried. It is unbelievable, disturbing, and heartbreaking.
After an hour, I turned the TV off because I do not want to be inundated by the media, especially with something so distressing. I cannot even imagine the pain and horror of the parents and families who lost someone yesterday morning in this senseless tragedy. I am so sorry.
I’ve heard people blame guns, while others blame the fact that God is not in schools like they want. For this or other cruel acts, some place the blame on parents or the government or schools or technology or lack of morals or the media or violence in our culture. I, too, want to look anywhere but in the mirror, yet Michael Jackson is right that we need to start with the “man in the mirror” and, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
The truth is we are all to blame, and we are all innocent. Yes, there are serious conversations we need to have about issues like gun control, the public school system, bullying, and the increase in violent acts like school shootings, especially one so horrendous as to be at an elementary school.
But right now, I want to focus on simple yet vastly important issues like how we communicate with ourselves and others, how we treat ourselves and our children, how we nourish and fuel our minds, bodies, and souls, and how we are all connected.
Today, I am filled with questions. What do we put into our minds, bodies, and souls every day? Who are the five people we are around the most? How do we treat those who cannot do anything to us, including our pets and children? What do we believe about ourselves and each other? What ambiance we have created in our homes, wherever we live?
The answers to these questions are so simple yet so complex, and they create the world we live in, the life we live. It’s all about choice. Every day, every moment, we choose what to watch, what to listen to, what to eat, who to hang out with, what to believe, what to do. I know it’s not so simple as I struggle with the choices I make in each moment every day, yet I do know that it is also that simple as choice equals our lives.
We must start and continue with these conversations rather than simply going back to our daily lives, ignoring issues, or postponing action. Today is the day to begin. I read a poem about kindness today that blew me away. Today is the day for kindness, compassion, giving, loving. Today is the day to use words that build, choose thoughts and actions that encourage, and fuel yourself with images, people, words that foster beauty, truth, love.
We must come together: parents, teachers, artists, musicians, politicians, reporters, leaders, teenagers, children. Together we can find answers, take action, and create authenticity of this human experience.
Nothing, nothing matters more than those we love. I am reminded of words my dad once said, “When it comes down to it, all you’ve got is your family.” So, today, if you are lucky enough to have the chance, spend quality time with those you love…listen to them, build them up, hug them, love them.
Simple words, simple acts, simple choices. But those simple things can make a difference, can mean everything.