Waking up at 8:00 this morning, I felt a chill that had me shivering from head to toe. Mother nature laughed at my feeble attempts to keep warm, and putting on more layers of clothing did nothing to ameliorate the clattering of my teeth. It was all so unusual, since I am known for being able to resist cold weather. But I saw very quickly why today in particular was and will probably be the coldest day of the year.
Coming home from the dentist, I decided to stop by a Subway to buy food for the family. To pass the time while standing in line, I shifted my eyes towards a television that was displaying CNN. Immediately, I see the headline: “20 children killed, including 6 adults in Connecticut elementary school.” Abominable, abhorrent, sick, twisted, senseless, surreal. These were the words running through my mind as I was stunned by what I’d just witnessed. In my mind, trying to make sense of what occurred was simply futile, since there is no method to Adam Lanza’s madness.
Reading upon the details of what transpired, I was further saddened by this new low that I didn’t even think was possible. To think that someone could go beyond the monstrosity of the events that took place in Columbine, Virginia Tech, and the Aurora theater, is unsettling to say the least. This tragedy hits home with me in particular since I have a baby nephew, who to me is a treasure and is the most precious child in the world who can do no wrong (that is, until I have a child of my own). Upon seeing him, I gave him a tight hug and held him close like there was no tomorrow. Just the thought of someone laying a hand on my nephew made my blood boil, and I felt even more pain in my heart for those innocent lives that were abruptly taken away.
Now, while my heart and the hearts of others remain heavy at the moment, I feel it is important remain hopeful of this world despite these tragic acts. It is easy to hate the world and become disillusioned, pessimistic, and cynical towards fellow human beings. However, that is exactly what “they” want. When I say they, I am referring to the perpetrators such as Adam Lanza and James Holmes. Wanting to drag us down to their level, they commit these acts in the attempt to triumph over the goodwill and heart that many of us possess and are capable of displaying; instead, they are trying to compel and enable feelings of hatred and anger, ugly emotions that we also intrinsically possess.
By remaining idle and indulging in the filth left behind these rotten cowards, we are letting them win. So what are we to do during times like these? Here are just a few lessons I’ve been taught over the years:
1. Show love and respect to your fellow man, even if they don’t return it in kind. Simply, do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
2. Be a pillar for someone who is struggling physically and emotionally. Lift those around you higher by being a positive influence.
3. Do good works and deeds. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and help those in need. Be selfless, and contribute to something bigger than yourself.
4. Keep your friends close but your family closer. A bond with a friend can be temporary, but a bond with family is eternal.
5. Love yourself. While we have many weaknesses, we also possess wonderful qualities that often outweighs our shortcomings. Appreciate and emphasize your strengths and use them to make the world a better place.
Gandhi truly says it best when he says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” There are many things in this world that are out of our control; however, we can most certainly control our own attitude and the way we approach life. Lets look within ourselves, demonstrate the capability of the human heart, and triumph over the darkness with a blinding light.
I dedicate this post to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary and their families. Adam Lanza has failed. Your memories only strengthen us and has only brought us closer together. Rest in peace.