So many of us are struggling to find a way to fit together the painful shards of the events at Sandy Hook. We express disbelief, anger, sorrow, and often we share the echoes of our own painful experiences. Underneath this, we catch unwanted glimpses of despair. What can any of us do in the face of such tragedy? Especially when our memories are still raw from the theater in Aurora, and a sharp red line of other episodes of meaningless violence.
I believe we need to have a thoughtful, careful yet thorough national discussion about the complex mix of causes that lead to such horrific results. There are no simple solutions to prevent the next occurrence, but perhaps we can come up with a few ideas that could help reduce them.
In the meantime, I have found one small thing I can do to dissolve my sense of despair. Since peace starts within and the only person I can hope to change is myself, I resolved to do 26 acts of kindness by the end of the year. Some for people I know, others for strangers. Some for animals or the earth. Some even for myself. Just little things, some of which I would have done anyway, but I will do them mindfully, in remembrance of those beautiful lives that were ended in that elementary school.
Thinking again, I ponder the other two lives lost. The gunman’s mother I didn’t know and perhaps she had some guilt to bear, but did her actions or inactions deserve death at the hands of her own son? I will be mindful of her, as well, and do an act of kindness in her name. Her son is a harder thought to contemplate. I remember the arguments after Columbine and 15 memorial crosses that suddenly were reduced to 13. Is it better to ignore those who bring such pain and destruction to others? Or better to search for the hints of their own humanity underneath their actions? I will not give name to the ones who did these terrible acts, but I will remember and question. And I will do an act of kindness for one other lost soul this year.
And then I think I will do little acts of kindness for all of the rest of us.