Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two cents

First off: Tragedy is always tragedy. I am in no way saying that what the families have gone through isn't tragic, and I feel it's crucial that everyone know this ahead of time. Death is always tragic because of the loss it causes. As I've posted before, death wasn't part of the original plan. It's part of the cursed world we live in, and I'm looking forward to the day when it's a "part of life" that we don't have to worry about anymore. 

That said, I think the media circus surrounding the Sandy Hook tragedy is insane. That's right. Insane. 

Here's an idea: Instead of blaming the NRA, or guns, or teachers, or the government...instead of *blaming* at all, how about we look ahead and focus on doing our part to make sure this doesn't happen again. Whether the shooter in this case was chemically imbalanced or just hurting, the fact remains that we can lessen the tragedies in our world if we all stop being so gosh darned self absorbed. If we start being aware of the people around us, aware of their hearts and their spirits, and willing to reach out and help ease their pain - or prevent it in the first place - the world would be a whole lot less pain-filled. 

Here's the fact: only broken people do things like this. It's not because of guns, because of lack of control or too much control. I can say this with confidence because that same day in Bejing a man stabbed several "primary school" children and their teachers to death before he was apprehended by local authorities. Guns aren't the problem. People being forced to walk around carrying overwhelmingly painful burdens in their hearts are. They probably aren't bad people. They're hurting people. People who, for whatever reason, have wounds that just haven't healed right, and they've festered into a terrible infection that has no choice but to spread. They're broken people, sick people. People whose entire course that day probably could have been changed by something as simple as a smile, or someone asking if they were ok, or someone reaching out in some way to say "I notice you, you matter to me."

People don't shoot children because they want to shoot children. People shoot children because something in them has snapped. Because their humanity has been so overwhelmed by their pain that causing other pain seems to be the only course of action. 

So instead of pointing fingers outside, at the NRA, at the government, at the parents of the shooter, let's start pointing them inside. Decide to make a change in your world. Decide to impact and probably save a life.

How? It starts with being nice. Take a moment to say thank you to the girl at the cash register, stop for just a second and ask the angry-looking man if there's something you can do for him. Wish someone a Merry Christmas. Look people in the eye as you pass them on the street, smile broadly, and say hello. Start taking a genuine interest in others - and teach everyone around you to do the same. 

Will tragedies stop happening? No. But you just might save that cashier, or that guy in line behind you, or the kid at the bus stop, or someone who just happens to have crossed your path. You might just keep them from snapping and hurting themselves and others. Start being interested in others and looking for ways to make them feel awesome about themselves, and you just might be the one who makes their entire day that much better so they can face tomorrow. You just might ease their pain.

And isn't that worth it? Isn't it worth looking outside of yourself, and your shopping list, and your own world for just long enough to say "That's a lovely scarf"? If you knew it would save your life you'd do it. If you knew with certainty that it would save the life of your child, or their best friend, you'd do it. So let's just pretend that it will. Let's be the drop that starts the ripple so this stops getting so much worse year by year. 

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