“What Should I Do?”
Many, many bloggers have been writing about the horrific tragedy in Connecticut. I didn’t think I wanted to add to the number. But last Sunday’s Gospel reading in church really hit home, and after a week of reflection, I decided to write down some thoughts.
“What should I do?”
This is the question that was asked repeatedly of John the Baptist: “What should I do” to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
Since last Friday, many people are asking, “What can we do?” It’s natural for us all to feel helpless and impotent in the face of such horror. But although nothing can bring those innocent children or courageous teachers back, there are some things--perhaps small, yet meaningful--that each of us as individuals can do. All it takes is the will.
At first I was going to write long paragraphs exhorting everyone to stand up for the two major issues here: gun control and mental health and illness. But those conversations have been in the air for days now, and I don’t think I need to add to them. People are already thinking about them, hard and seriously, and this is a very good thing.
My fellow blogger Sharon Hodor Greenthal, on Empty House, Full Mind, has linked to some excellent resources concerning gun control and mental illness. I urge you to check out her blog post.
There are still a few things, though, that I would like to emphasize, things that any one of us can do. Both could be ways of reforming our culture.
Stand up against our culture of violence. We have to take a good look at ourselves and ask ourselves if we really want the kind of society that builds its entertainment industry out of bloodshed and death. There is a lot of solid evidence that children who grow up watching violent media are more likely to become violent adults. Our movies are becoming more and more bloody, promote more and more calloused attitudes toward violence, and promote vengeance as a virtue, and they rake in millions of dollars. One easy step that anyone can do is to STOP putting money in the pockets of exploiters who produce these kinds of things. The same goes for television shows, video games, and music. This is one area in which the people, not the government, hold all the power. If these things stop making money, they will stop being made. It’s simple economics.
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There are things every one of us can do to help to heal ourselves and the world. Judaism has a lovely phrase for this: tikkun olam, “mending the world”.
Spread the power of beauty. Terrible events like this can make us despair, but don’t let despair grow into hopelessness and helplessness. Fight destructive actions with constructive ones. Creation negates destruction.
Make something beautiful. Make handicrafts if you have the talent and desire. Write poetry and songs. Plant beautiful flowers in a garden, and share them with others. Write thoughtful, heartfelt letters to people you love.
Fight against the hollow of negativity by doing positive things. Give love. Volunteer to do something good for people who need it, people you don’t know.
Adopt a pet and give it the love it needs, and the love it gives you will be a blessing and comfort.
Pray. The power of prayer has been demonstrated. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for our country and for humanity. There’s an old saying about war: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” This is a time to contemplate and reconsider whether we have the ability to humble our pride and call on a higher power—whatever you may believe it or him/her to be—and admit that we need help, as a people, as a country, as individuals.
Share all the positive things and beautiful things in the world and in life with others. Don’t let ugliness control you or sicken your mind. Believe in beauty and in hope, and do your best to bring them about. Mend the world, in your own little ways.
Join the “Kindness Movement.” Ann Curry of NBC recently posted on Twitter a call for “26 Acts of Kindness”, asking people to do one kind act for every one of the victims. I think this is a wonderful idea, and I’m already thinking about what I can do. For more details, see: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/18/15999109-if-you-do-good-youll-feel-good-ann-curry-explains-origins-of-26acts-of-kindness?lite
Are you in?