Making Something Good out of The Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting
While updating this blog I was digging out this blog post from a few years ago, I realize my painful expression of sadness and hope were going to be emotions that repeated over and over and over again year after year since this first published in December of 2012.
Here’s what I said then, and unfortunately, because of repeated shootings and endless violence, it’s still relevant today. Here’s what I said five years ago…
If there were anything good to come out of another shooting tragedy, I can’t think of what it is beyond another painful reminder of the shortness of life and renewed awareness of the battle between safety and our Second Amendment rights. But if the question is, what do we do?
Then the answer is – simple: LOVE. 12,554 people were murdered in our freedom-loving country last year and they no longer have a voice in this debate. My guess would be that many of the murderers experienced a lack of love in their lives.
Let’s honor the victims of our violent society by taking personal responsibility to change just one thing in each of our individual lives. Maybe that one thing could help prevent the next school shooting. Let’s all take one action today, this week, this month to do something that is the absolute opposite of evil, anger, pain, frustration, violence, and all the other attributes of those who strike out.
12,554 Dead People Can’t be Wrong
Let’s not let all of these murder victims die in vain. Their deaths should inspire us to reflect upon our lives. They should drive us to say STOP! The mentally ill, the homeless, the depressed, the stressed, the angry, the confused, the shell-shocked, and the struggling are often the ones who commit the unspeakable. Maybe, if we put as much energy into helping the aforementioned as we do attacking each other over who’s right and who’s wrong we might prevent another mass murders next year.
But there way too many maybes for us to feel like progress is being made on this sad subject. So here is what I know for sure. We can all do something that will cost us nothing and is guaranteed not to hurt nor offend anyone. We don’t need any laws to make this work. We don’t need a big budget to launch it. Just pick a few things on the following list and take action.
Share this list. Talk about this list. But do something. It may seem so simple and small but if one life is saved because of YOU taking action, isn’t that worth it?
The Sandy Hook Healing List
28 Ways to Let the Healing Begin
- Listen more- Listen to your spouse, your child, your friend. Listen to that person with nobody to talk to. Listen to that homeless person asking for a handout. What is she really saying? Those who strike out in violence often feel unheard.
- Compliment often – Share authentic compliments with others. You cannot overdo this. People with anger issues often have a negative view of their self worth. Words do make a difference.
- Forgive faster – Learn what it is and how to practice it. Forgiveness is not about condoning anything. It is truly about understanding the hurt and pain that resides in another that is so terrible that they are willing to hurt others out of their distress. Forgiveness is a powerful healer. You might start by forgiving yourself.
- Reach out – What can you do for someone less fortunate than you? How far are you willing to reach to prevent another murder? Kindness is the most effective way to reach out. Make it a practice. Kindness at work is as important as kindness at home.
- Stop participating in violence – Watching is participating. The endless violence we put into our minds from movies, TVs and video games may not be the direct cause of all violence but it’s clear it is not helping. What can you decide right now to stop participating in? What can you and your family do instead of observing another human being take pleasure in hurting someone else. What can you watch that will teach, uplift, and change the world?
- Invest more time – Where can you add some of your love, skills, talents, energy, or wisdom to help the lonely, the quiet, the outcast? Whether it’s five minutes or five weeks, what are you willing to invest of yourself for the good of the planet? It took Adam Lanza just a few minutes to gun down so many people. What can you do to counteract that negative with a few minutes of your time?
- Get involved – Watching and not speaking is not helping the problem. Where can you jump in and contribute? Can you publicly commit to doing something to reduce the glamorization of violence in this country? Can you find ways to express more kindness at the next board meeting? Can you honor that homeless vet on the corner by taking him to lunch or offering to drive him to a shelter? I know, I know, the professional health-care experts are going to say that driving a homeless person to the shelter may not be safe. That might be true but is doing nothing any less risky for the future of all of us?
- Educate yourself – Find out what the scope of the homeless problem near you is. Learn what services are available in your community for mental health. Could you volunteer there once a month? Could you make sure the people in your circle of influence know the truth?
- Dial down the anger – yes you. You with the road rage. You with the unkind words about anyone. Take a chill pill and realize that you’re not getting out of this life alive so you might as well enjoy it. John-Rogers in his book The Spiritual Warrior says – “Accept everything, resist nothing.” Letting go of your desire to be right may help to reduce the anger in you. What’s the big deal? Anger is highly contagious.
- Pray often – God forbid we should get into the religious thing. There is a wide range of religious fanaticism that isn’t really helping our planet these days. When we become so dead-set on making our religion the only religion we can become violent in our beliefs. Is this helping? Don’t think so. I ask you to pray from your authentic self. I ask you to pray from the point of view of your most loving god. Most religions are founded on love but many of us forget that principle in our effort to be right.
- Donate dollars – You’re busy. I get it. Don’t feel guilty. Do what you can with the resources you have. Give a little more to the place that sings to your heart. I strongly suggest you do it soon.
- Value others – Seeing the good in others is the first step to helping them see the good in themselves. The bullies of this world were not born that way. They often feel a need for revenge because their self-worth is so low. Help stop this cycle where you can. Let someone know in a very sincere and specific way that you value their friendship, contribution, passion, or presence every day.
- Act today- This country experiences an average of one murder per hour 24 hours a day, 265 days a year. We don’t have time to wait. All of this writing is all just meaningless words unless we find that one nugget of inspiration that drives us to action. Is there anything here that struck a nerve, pulled a heart string, tickled a fancy? Act on it. Act. Now.
- Reduce your violent verbiage – Words hurt. Words that hurt lead to behavior that hurts. Look at your language and really analyze how many violent words you use. They may seem meaningless but all of these little things we’re discussing here add up to real big things to someone. “Let’s kick some ass.” “My wife is going to kill me.” I hate people that do that…”
- Stop playing judge – Can you speak without judgement? We all judge but when we are fully self-aware we can reserve judgement much easier. When we hesitate to judge we just might learn something. When we delay our judgements our knee-jerk reactions don’t get us into trouble or hurt others as often. Of course we need to be honest but when we’re honest with helpful and kind words other people can actually hear what we say.
- See the world through another person’s eyes – Walk a mile in my moccasins before you judge me. If we knew how much pain and agony a person must be in to express their rage in such violent ways maybe we would have a little more compassion and be willing to help.
- Ask questions – Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People said it so well – Seek first to understand. If we do nothing else, this little act could change our country dramatically.
- Hold hands – give a hug – A simple gesture of love and appreciation to another human being is always a great way to begin a healing process.
- Go within – Your ability to be still, choose peace, and reflect on your purpose in life may just help you become a part of the solution. The answers within are more powerful than those we think we know at a conscious level. Take time to meditate, pray, chant, or whatever works for you. Be still and listen so the healing can begin.
- Give a little gratitude – Better yet, give a lot. Better yet, if there is one prayer that any higher power welcomes, it is only two words long and it is this: Thank You. Send a thank you card. Say thank you every chance you get. Think it. Speak it. Feel it.
- Overuse “I love you” – You know you like to hear it. Say it more often.
- Connect with others – Visit the lonely – Does this need an explanation? Our nursing homes are filled with lonely people. There are lonely people in your neighborhood. Let’s connect.
- Lend a hand – There’s no limit to how many ways you can help. Brainstorm a list with your family, friends and co-workers.
- Stay happy – Your attitude of gratitude and willingness to choose peace in our less-than-peaceful world is a guiding light for others.
- Stop complaining – There are plenty of challenges facing all of us these days but we have so many things to be grateful for in this country. Rather than complain, let’s act.
- End your procrastination – Could it be that procrastination is what allows those with violent tendencies to get to the point of no return? If someone had spoken up or taken action just a little sooner to help could some of the violence we experience be avoided? Think about it.
- Commit to change – There are 27 healing actions on this list. Would you be willing to commit to one, two or ten of them in the next thirty days? Would you be willing to commit to taking action at some level so that you could make a difference in your household, your workplace, your community, your country, your planet? Are there a few ways this list could make your life and the lives of others just a little bit better?
- Pay if forward – do something good for the people behind you. Do something good for someone without expectation. Share. Share often. Share this list. Pay your blessings forward and we all feel the many blessings of our lives.
Healing is the process of applying love where there is hurt. Let’s get started.