“But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away. I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious […] but there are much worse games to play.”
That’s Suzanne Collins (amazingly, a Sandy Hook resident) in the 3rd book of The Hunger Games trilogy, echoing the works of Mr. Rogers’ mom that went around this week:
I’m focussing on the helpers this week — the articles that illuminated kind or thoughtful or brave ways to move forward. The whole essence of this blog, and the concept of ‘the smarty at the party,’ is the mash-up of big ideas with celebration, saving the world AND having one hell of a good time in the process. But how (and why?) do we do that in the face of a horrendous massacre, that grips each of us in grotesque, personal ways — whether we’re grieving our own losses, or we see in ourselves the teachers, or parents, or children, or proud members of a civil society different, so different, from those war-torn nations across the ocean whose governments make no promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Well, of course we were reminded this week: we don’t.
And then we do. We bring joy back in. We attend holiday parties and reconnect with old friends. We hug our loved ones & feel love back. We appreciate our children and our parents and our safety such as it is, a little more. We find ourselves laughing. And we mingle grief with gratitude, eyeing the guilt perhaps, but not succumbing to it. This is how to live on. Because as valuable as empathy… is the ability to conceive of, and hold, the world’s problems and not let them drown you. Indeed, it may be that those problems will ultimately be solved only by those citizens ignited by hope or passion or inspiration enough to try, and joy enough in the work to carry on. We’re allowed to feel those things, and celebrate. We must.
These were some of my favorite acts of goodness this week, in the Sandy Hook aftermath. What were yours? Post to the comments below.
1. The sweetest lemonade is here. Remembering the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” the founder and director of Culture Collective connects the national response to the shooting with the global movement to redirect all that nasty apocalypsy energy toward something positive. Yes, it’s tremendously earnest but I think we all sorta yearned for an irony-free zone this week. He says, for example:
“Not satisfied with doomsday predictions of 2012, thousands of individuals and organizations began creating events for the weekend of December 21-23. Most of them were not aware of the others when they started, they just wanted to make something beautiful happen in response to so much fear about “The End of The World.” To create a new beginning, to envision the future, a world where we combat darkness with love, creativity, and kindness.”
The 26 Acts of Kindness mentioned in the article above is an online campaign that’s gone viral this week. It’s great on the what can we do front.
2. One of the wisest takes on how to wrap our mind around the shooting, the murderer, and the “why” is from author Andrew Solomon, interviewed this week at Salon.com. He researched Columbine and speaks daringly about autism and Asperger’s and demonization and forgiveness. Among other useful discussions about mental illness is this organization’s mission, getting attention thanks to Glenn Close.
3. As we all know, there’s been a lot of ugly news in the aftermath of Friday’s shooting. Arguments in favor of arming teachers as though the problem is too few guns, a protest planned for the Sandy Hook school principal’s funeral because of the pro-homosexual attitudes that institutions like it supposedly espouse, more guns, more fighting, more hate. But this is also the first time in my lifetime I can remember sensing a tipping point. That this latest mass shooting on our soil is the one — that one that forces the dialogue that forces the change. As it’s happened in other countries. Already there are buy-back programs flooded with returned guns, and powerful companies divesting themselves of their gun connections. Obama’s promised action in a way he knows he better stick to ‘cuz we all heard it. And everywhere people are talking…
A few more importants:
* the article everyone’s already read that, despite the backlash against the author, is still absolutely worth the read.
* the firefighters and volunteers who protested the protesters in Newtown.
* the first responders — the literal helpers — who were rendered helpless, along with the rest of us.
* a bit more about the amazing teacher who died protecting her students and who, it was said at her funeral, “put her whole heart and soul into every hug she gave.”
* a buddhist perspective — inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese buddhist monk.
* a legal perspective on what the 2nd amendment is, and isn’t — by the New Yorker’s resident law expert.
Oh, also, it’s the Winter Solstice. AND the world didn’t end. Congratulations!
Quote of the Week from Bill Moyers, in this article:
“Good laws are hard to come by. Civilization, just as hard. The rough and tumble of politics makes them so. But democracy aims for a moral order as just as humanly possible, which means laws that protect the weak and not just the strong.”