I want you to understand that I do not condone the behavior of one who shoots other people, but I feel compassion and grieve for the lonely person, often cut-off-from a world experience of living among others with feelings of acceptance. Professionals and experts are often called upon to stop hurtful, violent behavior from happening. But talking about it after the fact does not help much. Instead, each of us ordinary people must begin to heighten our awareness of the value that every community member, child, adult,and elder offers. We can look around to the children and people who cross our paths and support what we see of value in them. We can help someone find what he does well and support that happening —even little demonstrations, with a gentle smile or nod of the head. Give people our smile, a kind word, and above all, freedom from criticism and judgment.
We live in a society filled with well-meaning people who like to believe in high standards of achievement: the best schools, the most skillful achievers, outstanding athletes/artists/test takes and on and on and on. Competition reigns. Bumper stickers that read, “My child is an Honor Student” for all to see. But what of the child who finds reading hard to nearly impossible even though he may have tried with all his heart and soul until the pain became too great. What of a person who awakens every day with a low grade depression that slowly builds into a larger sense of disenfranchisement with no hope of finding a way out of dungeon of hurt. What about living with goals that don’t fit, unable to identify with age mates: goals that they can never reach because they are who they are deep inside, only no one sees it?
All people want to be accepted and feel good about themselves starting at a very, very young age. That is the birthright that needs to be provided to all our children and maintained throughout a lifetime. The elimination of standards that are too high, which are not motivating must be set aside. “Mother of the Year” awards, degrees provided by educational institutions and rewards for excellence that are out of the reach of most regular, everyday people, all of whom have something special about them, need less press time than the wonderful happening of achieving one step by someone with impaired movement, slow reading of a passage by someone with major learning differences or the unimaginable energy it takes to raise children while working full time and studying to better oneself.
I am so terribly sorry for the losses in Connecticut today. I am terribly sorry that someone felt so poorly that the only path of his life led to striking out to create the losses. Let us not forget to have compassion, give a smile, look for a glimmer of individual expression no matter how meager. In so doing, we will make the world a better place. And perhaps we will find that we are linked together in a way that may reduce the painful expression of hurt, violence, and gut-wrenching loss.