It was late in the day on Friday when I heard the news of what had happened in Newtown. I was bombarded with posts on Facebook when I sat down at my desk after a day of meetings. One of the posts was a link to a petition for stronger gun control laws. I signed it and posted it in my own news feed. My post didn’t draw much attention, but the comments I did get were all negative, chiding me for pushing an “agenda”, for being disrespectful to the victims, and for implying that it was the gun’s fault.
Now, if you know me well, you would know that none of these things were my intention. I am not a politician, so I don’t operate on an agenda. I operate on my own beliefs. I don’t have a problem with hunting or with folks owning weapons for such purposes. I’m not a big fan of concealed carry, but I respect the theory and the right to do so. I don’t, however, believe that any civilian should have access to assault weapons. That’s my belief, not my agenda.
The big, most hurtful thing, was the implication that I was being disrespectful by taking action. If I see a problem, or someone who needs help, I feel a strong need to do something. Sure, I believe in the power of prayer and sending good thoughts, but I want to DO something. I want to have a measurable step toward a solution. If something terrible happened to me, I wouldn’t want people to stand silent out of respect. I would want them to do something. Anything. Anything that they think might make a difference.
Over the weekend I saw many more instances of this on Facebook – people criticizing one another’s actions (and not just related to gun control) in the wake of tragedy. It made me think of Dr. Seuss and the Whos. When Horton the elephant discovered the Whos on their speck of dust floating through the air, he found he couldn’t protect them on his own. The Whos didn’t cower and leave their fate in the hands of someone else. They did everything they possibly could; yapping and yipping, banging and bipping. Each Who took action in their own way, exerting energy individually toward a greater group goal. In the end, it was enough to save the entire Who civilization. Then the Grinch came down from the mountains and stole their Christmas. But, the Whos did not falter, they did not wallow in sadness. They still gathered together and da-hoo doorayed on Christmas morning, a collective force that was enough to make the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes that day.
Obviously these are works of fiction, but I can’t help thinking sometimes, “What would a Who do?”
We all grieve and cope differently, and I wish that folks could just let one another be sometimes. If you don’t like yipping, then put your effort into bipping, and vice versa. For me, the thing that makes me feel better, the thing that makes me feel most useful, is action. Not respectful silence, not prayers shot to the heavens, not wallowing in the media circus, and certainly not tossing negativity at the well-meaning efforts of others. And I know I’m not alone, because over the weekend and into this week, I’ve seen lots of other doers posting about what they are doing. And, so, my fellow Whos, here is a collection of action items related to the Newtown tragedy. It is in no particular order. Take your pick, do what you can, do what you want, but please don’t judge the actions of others.
- Sign the petition for gun control that won me lots of friends on Facebook. Then, read Dr. Seuss’s Butter Battle Book.
- Read more about Ann Curry’s idea behind #26ActsofKindness. Take part.
- Read and Learn from my eloquent friend Kyran about how to help a stranger bear the unbearable.
- My friend Dionne posted this on Facebook:
From my friend in CT:
So many of you near and far have asked what you could do to help. Students from Sandy Hook will be relocated to another school. The building is being prepped, but could use some sprucing up.
Snowflakes for Sandy Hook
Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!! No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514, by January 12, 2013
- Daria Musk is over on Google Plus collecting comments, notes, and whatever else you want to email to her. Newtown is her hometown, and she’ll be delivering those sentiments to the memorial site.
- Julie at Julieverse initiated Thank A Teacher Day. The designated day was actually yesterday, but you can thank a teacher anytime, anywhere. Julie’s post has ideas on ways to do it.
- And while you’re at it, Fadra at All Things Fadra reminds us to Thank those that work in public service.
- My FB friend Danny, who works in Crisis Intervention, encouraged us to be familiar with local Crisis Intervention hotline numbers. Look yours up and put it in your phone. You never know when you or someone you love might need it.
- Read this article, if you haven’t already, about a mother that lives with a mentally ill child who threatens her life regularly. Eyes opened, perspective gained, I promise.
- Kelly over at The Centsible Life has a post that includes an address to send cards or toys as well as an address to send donations to the Sandy Hook Support Fund.
- Read this article about how computer hackers are trying to protect the victim’s families from Westboro protests. There’s also a link to a petition to have Westboro designated as a hate group that you can sign.
- One of the families who lost a child has set up a trust fund to help with the expense of counseling, education, etc for his siblings: Noah’s Ark of Hope.
- Several other bloggers took a day of silence on Tuesday. Again, not my thing, but they also funneled readers toward donating to Newtown Youth and Family Services.
- Read the Buzzfeed article, 26 Moments That Restored our Faith in Humanity This Year, bring a tissue, leave with inspiration.
I’m sure there are more that I’ve missed. If you know of something, please Yopp it in the comments.