When a tragedy like the one in Newtown happens, I never quite know what to do. My heart breaks, I cry, I wonder how one human can be in so much pain that something like this even becomes an option, but I never find any real, tangible answers.
I find that it is very easy for us to get angry, to blame others (whoever's on the other side of the table usually), to be sad and then to simply move on with our daily lives until the next tragedy hits. It is easy to stuff our feelings and/or feel helpless when we are not directly affected, whether removed by space or time, but it is not beneficial to ourselves, anyone around us or our individual and collective future.
I think the issues our country is facing go deeper than gun control, mental illness and how the media reacts to such horrible scenes. I also think that those issues will not be fixed quickly or without more pain or anguish. I've carried the heartbreak of this latest tragedy in my heart and in my spirit since Friday, longing for an answer and something I could do to help "make it better". Unfortunately, I don't believe there are any easy answers, and definitely not one single big sweeping answer.
Instead, I believe that change begins with each one of us, working together and separately, to help each other. I believe that practicing compassion towards one another goes a very long way. I believe that a smile and a helping hand are invaluable. I believe that a cup of coffee can brighten someone's day and that a pair of socks can warm cold toes. I believe that small acts of kindness can shift an energy of sadness, anger and helplessness into energies of joy, gratefulness and hope. One moment out of my day can improve the experience of an entire day for one other person. If the ripples of kindness are then allowed to expand by being paid forward to another person, a chain of connection, compassion and hope is created. Therein lies an endless well of possibilities.
Acts of kindness will not bring back those 20 innocent children, the 6 adults who fought to protect them or a very troubled young man and his mother. However, an act of kindness just might brighten my day and the day of someone I encounter. For just a moment, I can allow that to be enough. If we collectively make a habit of holding each other gently, approaching each interaction with compassion, love and an open hand, I do believe we will be laying the foundations of healthier, safer, happier communities.
I believe that we each process and heal in our own ways and I hope that each of you will find a positive way to help you process and heal from these most recent raw and jagged wounds.
Part of my healing will involve participating in Ann Curry's #20 Acts of Kindness through Twitter which can also become #26 acts or #28 acts. I have chosen to honor all 28 spirits and will do so over the coming days and weeks. My hope is that these individual acts will become habit for all of those who participate and that these acts will continue beyond the original set number and well into the future. I am hopeful.
Love and light to all.