Sunday, December 16, 2012


Tragedy comes in all sizes and weights. We who count ourselves lucky when we hear of someone else’s misfortune pretend the distance between their world and ours is far enough to keep us safe. But we are fooling ourselves. We can’t cut our boat adrift so easily. We can ignore the smaller ripples, but there are some of such magnitude we occasionally find ourselves holding onto the gunwales with feverish intensity.

Such a tragedy occurred days ago in a Connecticut town that could have easily been any of dozens here in Massachusetts. It was a tragedy that knocked on every door, and louder on those behind which a child could be found. A child thankfully alive, aware perhaps of the looming presence of the holidays but of little else. Behind those same doors you would also find parents stricken by their own form of grief; a grief ironically tied to treasures they still possessed, which now seemed so at risk. Parents now painfully attuned to the vagaries of Fate that could so cruelly—and so quickly—take precious children from their lives.

All of us share the grief of the families, witnesses and survivors, and of the broken lives left behind in the wreckage of one young man’s unfathomable expression of rage. And if there was anything we could do to lighten their burden, we would do it in a flash.

The Newtown shootings was a tragedy of boat rocking proportions. It reminded us—as Sandy did in a much less personal way—how vulnerable we are, and how dependent we are on one another to make this world a better place in which to live and raise our children. But ripples travel both ways on the surface of the pond. Who can say, but perhaps this tragedy might have been averted, had one human being scaled the shooter’s walls, touching his life with ripples of love and healing vibrations. Offering him a better role model than the kill-crazy heroes in video games. Offering him love and kindness to offset the hate.

All that we do—all that we are—send out ripples in the pond. Tragedies send out their own ripples; and there is no way we can avoid being touched by them, nor should we want to.  All we can do is steer a true course, and keep our eyes focused on those who rightfully share the waters in which we live. 

And, yes, keep sending out ripples of love and kindness.

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