Last week’s unspeakable tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut left me speechless. There really are no words to express the feelings, the raw emotions, the shock, anger, pain, and the heartbreak. Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy tried to explain the unexplainable, saying “Evil visited this community today.”
How many of us just stared, open-mouthed at the television feeling completely hopeless? I closed my eyes, feeling crushed under the weight of sadness as I thought about the children, the teachers, the school psychologist, the principal, and the first responders.
After watching some coverage, I turned off the television and said a prayer for all involved. I recalled a scripture verse:
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
I can think of no more crushing blow than this tragedy.
Lead With Love
How do you respond to events like this? Dan Rockwell said it well when he said the response should be to lead with love. I like what Dan had to say because love is always the best response.
Here are a few ways to respond to these sad events:
- Love more. Hug your kids. Even in a corporate setting, it’s possible to lead a company with love.
- Be compassionate. Someone once told me that, when in doubt, assume the person you are talking with is hurting. That’s because all of us face challenges, adversity and heartbreak.
- Escape. Take a drive or escape in a movie or a good book. Read together as a family. I love what Kate DiCamillo wrote in The Tale of Despereaux: “Once upon a time,’ he said out loud to the darkness. He said these words because they were the best, the most powerful words that he knew and just the saying of them comforted him.” I agree with Kate. “Once upon a time” transports all of us into another place.
- Think about the kids. If you have children, make sure you know how to help them through this. Read articles about the appropriate response for your children.
- Hope. Find the hope. It may seem impossible, especially as a response to a senseless act of depravity. The Dalai Lama put it this way, “There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
- Give. Today, dig deep and give. Write a check to your favorite charity. Do something for others whether visiting a local nursing home or signing up to work at a food kitchen. One of the best ways to improve your own mood is to give to others in need. You can also donate directly to the victims.
And so, though we will watch the news reports looking to make sense of it all, I know that there is not always sense to be found. There are some things we just cannot explain. We cannot control what happens, but we can control how we respond. We somehow manage to learn from life’s storms. And, what encourages me is that, even in the presence of evil, teachers responded heroically. People risked their lives to help others. In coming days, we will learn more about these selfless acts. I will choose to focus on those acts of goodness, of giving, of kindness. I will choose to let these events remind me of the fragility of life, and the need for all of us to lead with love.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the community of Sandy Hook.