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We don’t have cable so we don’t have the news. We watch an edited Good Morning America every morning, a day after it aired, while we get ready in the morning but only on “normal” mornings. Those are mornings my son goes to school and I go to work. Sometimes we don’t have time for any news so we stay fairly behind in current events.
Imagine my shock when a friend tells me about the shootings in Connecticut. I was perfectly upset and my response fit that moment but I forgot soon after telling my husband what I heard. Our life goes on and there was nothing to remind us.
Over the weekend, my son was on facebook and all of a sudden he exclaims. He turns to us and says why is there so much about this shooting. We tried to explain but it only made him more upset. Any tragedy involving children gets most people upset. “What about all the children who die of starvation in India?” he asks. I don’t have a response. I don’t have a response because I agree.
I remember being so angry about all the noise about the 9/11 attacks. I was called unpatriotic. I was unfeeling. That wasn’t true. Days before, there had been an earthquake in India that killed far more people and yet the plane crash took all the publicity. There was donation collections going up all over the place for those in New York (no mention of any other location here). Businesses were offering deals in honor of the tragedy. I was appalled. I wasn’t unfeeling – I was angry that something like that could happen. I was angry that we ignored another disaster in the process. I was angry that no one was looking at this rationally.
We talk now about how things got messed up and we attacked the wrong country but I never felt that the people who took those planes were really the threat. Where was the comparison to the Oklahoma bombing? There wasn’t one because the terrorist was American.
Where am I going with all this? Nowhere in particular.
Today, the talk is the response to the news that the shooter in Connecticut had autism. The fear is that those with Autism might become the new persecuted, the current target to get everyone looking in the wrong direction. The news is good at that. They like to hang something shiny to distract everyone so they don’t focus on the real issue here. The real issue is that we live in a scary violent world. It’s a world that has lost its humanity. Hate is our best emotion because we have forgotten how to love. We have forgotten how to help our neighbor. We have forgotten what was important.
I saw this first hand just Saturday. We were at a holiday party. Tables were set up, activities were all around the room but few people actually connected. Part way through the party, a giveaway was offered. There were tables at the front of the room filled with items for free. The group swarmed on those tables like locusts and just as fast they were gone and the party was over. I sat there and just watched. I had looked forward to this event for a month. This was a chance for me to connect with others and have a good time. I, sort of, got to visit with some but I kept waiting for the party to start – that moment that tells us this is what we are doing. That never seemed to come. It was so weird.
As someone who doesn’t get human response, I’m totally lost. I don’t understand people any more. In fact, I would say my understand has diminished over the years. You’d think somewhere it would click but it doesn’t because I don’t think we act like humans. Where’s the compassion? Where’s the giving? Where’s the dang holiday cheer?
I feel like Charlie Brown – what’s the meaning of all this? Why so much commercialism? Okay, I don’t think commercialism is the problem. I think we just forgot what it meant to have to survive the harsh winter conditions. Without that connection to others, it was a very bleak time. Not only did the “villages” have to pool together to make sure no one froze or starved to death, they had to provide that good cheer. They had to keep hope alive for when the winter would end and spring would come. They sang to keep the spirits up. They visited each other and brought treats to make the winter bearable.
Life isn’t the same. We have grocery stores and welfare programs to make sure we have food and basic survival needs. We’re too busy watching tv and playing on facebook to think about the neighbor who might need a little extra light in their life. We’ve all become Scrooges and that’s sad.
In the light of tragedy, we should gather together to provide comfort. We shouldn’t be yelling about gun control. We should be taking the time to let our children know they are loved and they are as safe as we can make them. We should pray for the family of the man who did the shooting and we should strive to understand so that we can see the warning signs in the next child. We should get to know our neighbors so that we can be there for them when they are in trouble. Most tragedies can be stopped with a little compassion and early intervention but we can’t do that if we aren’t paying attention.
We have to strive to help others. We have to return to being villages. We have to watch over our neighbors children so that we know they will watch over ours. We have to learn to trust each other. We have to teach compassion. I know I keep using that word but I have no other. Compassion is what we lack. Compassion is what we are starving for. Without that, we might as well return to being monkeys.

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