Tuesday, April 17, 2007
About death and life
Is there anyone out there who doesn't wish there was something to do?
I do; there's nothing more frustrating than to face up to the idea that there's nothing I can do. But I've learned, slowly, and painfully, to accept it. There isn't anything to do. Not yet, at least.
Oh, there might be things we can do in the future. We might have a lot of information, and recognize that certain specific actions will help, and not cause harm. We should always go over these incidents and think carefully about them.
But the urge to act can overcome common sense. After Columbine there were issues being discussed that made folks like me (and a lot of other harmless loners) worry that teenaged angst would soon be considered conspiracy to commit violence.
Someday, maybe we'll have a way of finding people who are about to snap, and do something crazy and senseless like this. But that day isn't today, and it's not going to be tomorrow.
But there is something you can do.
Look around you for the next couple of days. Think about everyone you see. Think about the tragedy if that person's life was cut short. Think about how all of the world is diminished when any one of us is lost.
Learn to care about those people. If you see one of them smiling, let it brighten your day a bit, to think there's a bit more happiness in the world. And if you can do something that makes one of them smile, that makes the world a little brighter, well, give it a shot.
Always remember to keep in mind that, if you try to make someone happy, it's a gift you're offering, and you shouldn't try to force a gift on anyone who's unwilling (and maybe nervous if not expecting it). But try reaching out, if it seems like you can.
This isn't going to prevent any shootings... certainly not directly. I could be wrong, but I don't think any would-be shooter stopped and said "that stranger offered to buy me a cup of coffee on a cold day when the bus was delayed; hell, I guess it's too nice a day to go on a shooting rampage, anyway."
But then, we don't know how to prevent shootings. We don't know who is going to snap, we don't know why. All this does is cause us to value, and celebrate, life.
And maybe, just maybe, if we do that, if we reach out enough, we can find a way to reach those folks who might snap,and maybe, just maybe, we'll find a way to stop them.
In the meantime, we'll be making all people's lives a little better, a little brighter, and a little more meaningful.
Because one of the most tragic things about this kind of thing is, that it; it's too late to do anything for the murder victims. They're dead, they're gone, and maybe prayers or rituals or who-knows-what can help them, but even if so, we'll never know.
We've lost any chance to show them love, to make their lives better, or brighter. We can't make them laugh, or smile, or comfort them when they cry.
Do you want to do something? Do you want to make a difference? Then go out there, and try to make the world a better place for your presence. Try to sow happiness, even if you won't be around to watch it blossom.
We can't prevent the shooting victims of yesterday, any more than we can prevent the car crash victims or falling victims, or disease victims of yesterday. All we can do is make the world brighter, today, for the people around us, fully aware that today might be the only chance we have.
It's not very heroic seeming. It's not very powerful feeling. And yet, it's only by reaching out, by caring about each other, by trying to understand each other, that we have any chance of figuring out what makes people do these things. It's the foundation of learning what goes wrong and how to fix it.
And even if I'm completely and horribly wrong about this, if you do this, you'll have made a few lives brighter, and the world a little bit better than your presence.
I have two kids of my own and I have noticed when I'm at their school how some of their classmates tend to shy away from the crowd and stay alone. I try to give those kids some simple attention by asking them to give me five and talking with them for a few minutes about kid stuff. Have I done any good? Beats the hell out of me but I know it can't hurt.