I will admit it was a little hard to drop the kids off at school yesterday. There was no question whether they would go or not and although they were well aware of what happened on Friday, they didn’t seem hesitant about it. Although, Anne did say, “I need to give you an extra big hug today.”
It’s hard not to think about Sandy Hook, especially now that we have sweet little faces attached to those 20 names, not to mention the 6 beautiful teachers. I keep finding myself wiping away tears randomly throughout the day and I am far away from the impact of it. I don’t live in that community, I didn’t know a single person directly touched by it. And still it’s hard. I can’t imagine how much that feeling must be multiplied for those in Newtown Conn.
The only thing that makes it bearable is the outpouring of love, compassion and kindness that is coming from everywhere. Someone in California buying coffee for the entire town, the #26 Acts of Kindness movement, strangers volunteering to fill workers shifts so they can attend funerals. And even just out and about you notice that everyone is moving a little slower, a little less hurried, asking how you are and actually listening to the answer. People reaching out to people they don’t even know, complete strangers, to make their day a little bit better, even if it’s inconvenient.
It’s the only thing that makes it bearable. That jolt that reminds us all of what really matters, that we are all one big community, one big family and that we’re supposed to take care of each other.
Tragedies seem to do that to us. It’s happened before, Sept 11th, Hurricane Katrina, the tornadoes in Joplin….Newtown. The good comes pouring out from everywhere. But then it always seems to slowly dry up. A few months down the line we all seem to retreat back into our own little worlds. We get focused on our to do lists. The little annoyances that we had realized didn’t matter start convincing us once again that they are “problems” or “hardships”. We forget. We forget to see the people right in front of us. We forget that even strangers are part of our community. We forget to reach out and offer help, friendship, a smile. The outpouring of love, kindness and compassion that flows so freely at times like this tends to dry up, like a mountain creek in a long drought, until its barely a trickle.
What I wonder is this. What if we could keep it going. What if we could make this outpouring last beyond this week, beyond Christmas, beyond the funerals, beyond the initial shock of it all. What if we were still reaching out and listening and offering love, kindness and compassion next month, six months from now? What if we could keep it going until this time next year? Would the anniversary of Sandy Hook find us living in a better world if we could do that?
I know it sounds naive and simplistic. And I know it’s easier said than done. I know the problems that led to this are complicated and the conversations will be long and hard. I understand all of that. I do.
But what if? What if it could change our world, even just a little? What if we could remember to just take a deep breath and smile and care a little bit more about the other guy? If we can keep it going, keep spreading kindness around it could matter. It might help.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it won’t make any difference at all and the problems of the world might be way to big to be conquered by such a simple minded idea. But we have to try. Don’t we? I really think we have to try.