The New Year is here and like most of you I have no idea what happened to last year. But as I was thinking about what might be of value to write about, it is hard not to think about the recent senseless loss of life in Newtown, Conn. Little children and brave adults cut down unexpectedly and for no good reason beyond a deranged mind and easy access to guns. I won’t bore you with my views on either. I would like to share my view on the individuals and the communities that rise to the level of hero in the aftermath.In a time of growing concern about how social media polarizes our children with the steady barrage of bad news on TV, has it occurred to you that we are doing a pretty darn good job of taking care of each other? It occurs to me that our ability to take care of one another is stronger than I could have ever imagined. Here are a couple of examples.Power of Community
Hurricane Sandy – BAR HARBOR, Maine(NEWS CENTER) – It is the season of giving and a group of kids in Bar Harbor have a lesson for all of us. As many families continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy they were unable to put gifts under the tree for Christmas. Last month a group of children collected toys for the kids affected by the hurricane to make sure they would have something to open on Christmas morning.Sacramento-based AmeriCorps Crew Returns from Hurricane Sandy CleanupPublished: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 – A crew of weary AmeriCorps workers stationed in Sacramento returned Saturday after spending three weeks helping clean up the mess left behind by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. For most of the workers, it was their first major deployment in their 10 months of service after completing initial training at the AmeriCorps Pacific Region Campus at Sacramento’s McClellan Field. It is one of only five such campuses in the nation and the only one on the West Coast.How deep is the pain?Somehow all that good doesn’;t seem to equal the pain and misery that people experience, does it? What could possibly replace the loss of 20 children? How can you even imagine the pain, emptiness and the grief?The Nuremberg Trials and the capture of Adolf Eichmann didn’t and still doesn’t feel equal to the loss of six million souls. How could evil win out over good?Reinhold Niebuhr says it best (in The Nature and Destiny of Man): Niebuhr received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. Among his most influential books are Moral Man and Immoral Society and The Nature and Destiny of Man,”The tragedy of human history consists precisely in the fact that human life cannot be creative without being destructive, that biological urges are enhanced and sublimated by demonic spirit and that this spirit cannot express itself without committing the sin of pride.”Sin touches every human action, which paralyzes us from hoping to “solve” problems. Every “solution” only engenders new (unintentional) problems. No action can erase sin. No policy can save us from tragedies. All that we can do, then, is acknowledge the inevitability of tragedy, that we might be prepared when it wounds us once more.”Just a Touch of Perspective
Volunteering, giving, being busy in the good work of helping others is all we have and it saves us. We reach out to help even a little. It is our equalizer. After 911, many vowed to fly more because we were not going to let terror control our lives. Somehow we needed to balance out the bad with strength. We talk to each other and when we are through talking we say, “Why don’t we do something?” and we do. Never have there been more agencies to help or more ways we as individuals can give our blessings of money, food, shelter and love. Children will continue to have yard sales, and volunteers will continue to travel from far away to simply make a little difference. Famous artists will gather again because they can, and want to find a way to equal out the evil. No agenda beyond simply to help will be found. Balance is what we are looking for, and it occurred to me that it is exactly why we will be okay.We act because we know it is our duty to act. We know that the only way to make a wrong right is to do something honorable, gentle, kind and generous.It is no mystery that 2013 will have its share of tragedies. I hope you are not personally touched by them and I also hope that the places we live in continue to be the places where people act and don’t simply talk about acting. The theme always seems to be the same – each of us needs to lead. We need to find the strength to think beyond ourselves and do what is right. We seem to be doing it better and better.