For the past several days, I have struggled with the horrible events of last Friday, December 14, 2012. A shooter entered an elementary school and shot 6 teachers and 20 first graders. As a parent and grandparent, as a professional, and as someone who hates guns, this one has been hard for me. The images, indelibly imprinted in my psyche, are terrifying and sad.
The media has conjectured extensively about the increased possibility of gun control legislation, as well as the flaws and possibilities of the mental health system. They have also revealed a new debate as to whether principals and teachers should be armed. The shooter's mother, also a victim, has been portrayed in sensational ways (survivalist, gun maven, troubled) and a heroine (mother of a son with many challenging behaviors, unable to access needed services). There is much conflict in each of these discussions. Now, our society can add epidemic violence to some of our other woes: the looming fiscal cliff, wars abroad, and health care reform Perhaps it is good that it this new "worry" has moved up on the list that politicians, neighbors, and various advocacy groups can argue about. The combination of the realities of the events of last Friday and the debate that has followed has dampened my holiday spirit, and that of many others around me.
And then this morning, my wife shared something with me. Former NBC Today Show host Ann Curry has started a website/twitter feed: Inspired to Act: #26 Acts of Kindness:
Curry's message is asking others to join her in committing to 26 random acts of kindness to honor the Newtown children and adults who were killed. I read down the page, which provides some opportunity to respond and hundreds of people have indicated what they have done, little things and big things, to memorialize the victims and to move forward. To be honest, reading these "tweets" humbled me. While I have been focusing on the hopeless sadness of the situation, thousands of others have been doing good things, big and little. There are notes of Christmas miracles, Jewish mitzvahs, generous donations, letters of apology, and thank you notes to first responders.
It is right to be sad and angry over such "random" violence. It is not likely that 26 acts of kindness by many will stop the next crazy killing spree. Our legislators, scientists, the education system, and the health system will have to struggle with this epidemic for a long time. In the meantime, doing something positive and kind has the potential to communicate what is healthy and hopeful during this most difficult period. So, I am starting my holiday list late this year. This year, my holiday to do list focuses on 26 random acts .I want to respond to Ann Curry's little message. My response won't change the world, it won't change the grief of the sorrowful survivors in Newtown, and it certainly won't change the likelihood that there will be another random killing in the future. My reason for doing it is selfish. It will change me, lift my spirits, and might help someone that I work with or someone in my family or someone who needs a little lift.
I hope that this holiday that everyone in the Institute community and your families, have a safe, healthy, happy and wonderful break. I hope that every one of our students knows that we care about them and their success and that we look forward to seeing them in January. I hope that every faculty member and staff member at the IHP knows that what we do changes the face and the future of health care-one student at a time. I also invite everyone to read the "Inspired to Act" site and then join in with 26 big or little random acts. Do it for yourself.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday! Peace.
PS-Feel free to list some of your random acts on the blog response below! Think of the effect! 26 random acts x 1200 students+ (200 faculty and staff) =36,400. That's big!