Thursday, October 18, 2018

What to Say About Things Like This

As a parent, today's shooting in Connecticut leaves much to say...but what exactly?

One of the biggest challenges as a parent is to have to explain this chaotic world to an unspoiled mind. To find a way to put words to things that defy reason but are important to understand. My daughter is too young to know about what happened today in Connecticut but this is the world she inhabits and the world she will need to be able to navigate. I think about what I would say to her if she were a few years older.

Any normal human would feel empathy for the victims' families and as a fellow parent even more so. But to have an intimate understanding of how piercing the loss those bereaved parents are suffering--it is crippling to wander too far in. So I retreat back into fury over how this kind of thing keeps happening. How guns and mental health and violence pervade the profiles of these cowardly shooters. And how thus far the American government has been literally held hostage by an Amendment and a Lobby that don't serve us in their current form. Perhaps this incident will turn the tide and maybe there will be a chance for policy change and attention to issues otherwise ignored. But I have very little ability to affect that.

There is so much that goes into making the powder keg of a troubled mind capable of inflicting such pain, suffering and death. In the early hours when this story was unfolding, I began to read the comments section on the Seattle Times article about the shooting. Usually the forum devolves into bile-fueled, shouting matches. But one comment stood out to me and profoundly resonated. It was submitted by "SeamusSmith":

Americans are losing all sense of compassion, of empathy, of community, of being One Nation, of being kind for kindness sake and good for goodness sake and loving for loving sake. Stop. Just stop and think about what kind of world we are handing off to the children who survived this hideous act of a madman.
Think and resolve to do better. To make more eye contact. To say "hello" to people who seem isolated and distraught. To listen more. To be more kind. To be helpful to those who are floundering. To bark less and wag more.
Swear it on the bodies of these American children, these innocent, lost members of our human race: I will be more compassionate for the rest of my time on earth.
In the end, only kindness matters.

Especially in Seattle where we are known for standoffish behavior, I know he is right. I do this. I am suspicious of all people until they prove me wrong and am less friendly than I could be. And yet I see how this way of being is not helpful to the greater good. Amplified and replicated it is not protective but isolating and when people are truly isolated they lose a part of their humanity. So as Seamus (or whatever his real name is) pledges to be more compassionate, I will too. If nothing else but to repair and strengthen the connection to and faith in fellow humans. Of course this will not undo what has happened and it may seem small. But otherwise there is just sadness and fury.

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4 comments on What to Say About Things Like This

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By melanie jean juneau on December 15, 2012 at 12:12 am

excellent insights and I love SeamusSmith's dissertation on compassion. The only way for me to move beyond outrage to compassion, is to turn to the Light, to God who can forgive the tormented soul of the murderer, the outraged, the cynic and the unforgiving parent. Only by digging deep into my spirit am I able to flow in the same kind of love and forgiveness and let that healing flow into this situation

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By riginal on December 15, 2012 at 06:11 am

Maybe if the 'WORLD' had a VOICE it would resonate through every being on this planet. "Ask not what the WORLD can do for you...ask what YOU can do for the WORLD." A past great American President has already spoken on this subject albeit locally. I won't self implode in December . I'll suffer in agony and silence for as long as there are a few 'good' men and 'Women.' They are my voice. YOU high-handed self induligent bog selfish self- destructing mainstream population must listen, i mean LISTEN. Don't know how to? Unshackle your consciences and turn up the surround sound dial marked 'compassion' blend in a bit of basic decency. Why not have Christmas Spirit ALL year round? If you must fight do it one day of the year? High powered guns high powered cars...? Part of the problem but not the core as already alluded to. Your WORLD weeps humans. Don't rely on God's hanky. YOU people hold the sponge so start soaking up my grief. If i've offended any of you then wear it. I've worn your stupidity for long enough and my patience SADLY wears thin. Signed, with love still, YOUR WORLD.

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By melanie jean juneau on December 15, 2012 at 08:07 am

great comment riginal

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By Barbara MacDonald on December 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

Amen...Riginal and Melanie...sometimes there are just no words strong enough to express our thoughts and feeling and they then pour from our eyes in tears...well written article...thank you...when will we finally learn and put an end to this senseless lose of life? Something is really wrong that this keeps happening...we are failing as a society...and this makes me very sad that my grand kids have to grow up in this world...:-(...

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