We can do better

I’m sitting here in my living room with my cats and my dog, watching CNN. They were showing the photos of all the Sandyhook victims followed by a random act of kindness posted on social media….something that was done in the name of one of the victims.

I am moved to quiet tears as I watch this. Beautiful. Kind. I really have no adequate words to describe what I feel right now. Sadness. Gratitude.

Deeper questions and thoughts fight for my attention. I’m wishing it would not take a tragedy and loss of this magnitude for people to collectively care about others. I know there are people out there in the world like this…that do these kinds of things as a rule. I do not feel the majority think about it unless they are prodded by an event too senseless to understand. It fills the deep need we all have “to do something”.

Have we become so self-centered in the advent of instant publishing on social media, and so busy with our own lives, that we are blinded to the needs of others? Are we so afraid to get involved with things we feel are none of our business? Do we really need to be shown photos of slain children to do good? Can we not be better than this?

Many of us also suffer from shrinking financial resources, and don’t feel we can contribute without taking away from our own families.

Yesterday I came to realize I do not need money to give. I was given a very generous Christmas gift by someone. Having no way to reciprocate in like manner, I cleaned her home as my gift to her. It took only my time. I have a lot of time. I don’t have a lot of money. I have also decided that I will do this for my friends where I live. I will make little coupons and slip them in Christmas cards for cleaning, redeemable any time in the coming year.

I want to find a local soup kitchen that needs steady help, and volunteer at my local animal shelter. I’m looking into local mentoring programs for children too. There might be a child out there in my town that could use my time. I am ashamed that I never followed up on any of this before. I too, am prodded sharply, by the events in Connecticut. That’s not a bad thing…if someone does a kind deed because of Sandyhook….it’s a good thing. But we need to do these things all along, not in response to horror. I need to do these things all along, not because what I see on TV reduces me to tears.

We can do better. I believe this. I can do better. I believe that, too.

I long to live in a world where bells do not have to toll for murder victims. I also realize that there are no guarantees whatsoever that this will never happen again. No laws, no personal commitment, nothing….no guarantees. We can implement laws and require stricter judgements, but we can’t keep bad things from happening. I don’t even want to touch on, or debate, gun control laws here. People are too emotional to discuss it rationally, and it is my deep hope that we can at least come to agreement that we need to do whatever is necessary, to try and provide safety to everyone, especially the children of our nation.

There are things we CAN do. We can call our parents just to say hi. We can check on that neighbor we don’t see out and about too often. We can shovel the driveway of the senior lady down the street. We can be kind and supportive of the brand new cashier at the grocery store who is nervous, instead of being impatient because she is slow. We can send a real letter in the  postal mail to a friend we haven’t talked to in a long time, just to say hello. We can split our lunch with a coworker who doesn’t have money to eat. We can keep an eye on the kids in the neighborhood that are playing outside, even if they aren’t ours. Mow the grass for the elderly couple that can’t do it anymore. Walk the dog of a sick friend. Read to kids at the library. Get the idea? Once you start thinking about it, you realize there are many things you can do! Every day! Keep it simple, if you cannot help many, help one. Just one.

Is our time so important that we cannot share it with others?

My challenge will be applied to myself first. I cannot expect others to follow me and believe in me, if I don’t do it myself, first. Then, my call to kindness goes out to others. The restoration of hope to a person who feels all is lost is the greatest gift you can give them. Some people will go on to do the most amazing things, if only they have just one person to believe in them.

Today, I am going to start looking for that one person….who needs just a few kind words, and a little of my time.

Be brave and make some magic!

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