Sunday, December 23, 2012

To Cope With Recent Tragedies I Have Taken Stock and Even Learned That I Am Grateful For Community Organizations In Part to Cope and Hope

I have not been posting, here, on Seeking Grant Money Today, or on its Twitter account for the past two weeks because my computer (which is five years old) went on the fritz and then simply did no more. 

I am neurotic and as such, I am a religious 'backer-upper' of my hard drive.  It's one up-side to being neurotic.  So, really, aside from the inconvenience of not having a computer of my own for a two week period, I didn't suffer anything bad.  I did not loose entire drives, lists of documents, or photos, my music library, years of e-mails, etc. as some people do when their computers cease functioning.

We now know much more important, invaluable, and real loss happened.  During the past two weeks, of course, the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre in Newtown, Connecticut occurred on Friday, December 14.  That kind of horror puts everything into perspective, doesn't it?  There are no words to describe it or how one feels about it, are there?  There is no sense to make of it, beyond Newtown Police and the FBI's due diligence to provide evidence and testimony to the legal and public records.  Conducting an investigation is a pretty functional way to "make sense" of what happened for our society and a good one.  But, what about on an individual human level?  How do we make sense of it if we feel?  On the seventh day of Hanukkah, this year, and a mere eleven days before Christmas, Adam Lanza brutally murdered twenty very young students, six adult school staff members, and his mother.

Immediately, it did not matter that my laptop went kaput, days before.  It did not matter that I was overwhelmed about what gifts I had left to get still.  Nothing about whatever was bothering me before learning of the massacre had any of the gravitas it had, after learning of it.  My stress - the self importance of it (while normal and even understandable) was put into a new light.  It was an opportunity to be a bit self aware, and then from that self awareness it was an opportunity to better see my actual situation (which is blessed), and it was an opportunity to learn.  Before, I did not see that I was getting worked up about things that were both doable and manageable.  After, I admittedly saw my self importance amid what was neither truly difficult nor that big a deal (after all, I'd get a new computer, I'd get the gifts purchased and to their recipients, etc.).  After I saw things differently, like I'm sure you did, I instead immediately and intuitively put sadness, and of course compassion into place for especially the victims, their friends and family, the school staff, the Newtown community, and the first responders of/to the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre.  But, too, I felt it for everyone in the world who loves a child or a school staff member anywhere... in Connecticut, in the United States, and in the world.

Especially at this time of year, but really at any time of year (such as a week after the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre the four people who were shot and killed and three police officers who were wounded on a rural Pennsylvania road; or the the Oregon shooting a mere three days before the massacre on December 11, 2012; or the Aurora Colorado shooting that happened almost exactly five months before the massacre; etc.) we stop after these random acts of violence against a non-expecting general public and feel sadness and compassion for those lost and their loved ones and we can't believe it.  We can't understand it.  We can't make sense out of it.  But, usually afterward, we also learn of the heroes.  Some of the everyday people present during these acts of violence do extraordinary things amid horrific occurrences to protect and save those in harm's way.  As the stories of their actions and quick thinking trickle out after these tragedies we see the humanity, the hope, the strength that is indeed present certainly in the wake of such events (like the first responders who run into an elementary that holds innocent children and staff but, too, houses an incredibly over-armed shooter, to ensure that those in danger are taken out of the building and out of harm's way) but also we learn of the strength of some who snap to action for others during these horrors.

It is especially the stories that come out, after the tragedy, of the strength that is present during the violence that both puts hope into perspective and shines a light on given humanity, such as, in just one shining story of selflessness, Antonio Charro of Clackamas, Oregon who during the shooting rampage in the Oregon mall stepped out into the area the shooter had just shot up to take the side of Cindy Yuille of Portland, Oregon - a nurse who herself had just been shot, and was non-responsive lying on the floor.  He did this even as pops were still being heard from the shooter's weapon and while survivors ran past him encouraging him to get up, as they did, to get himself out of there.  He did not leave.  He said he could not leave her alone.  Sadly, Ms. Yuille passed away of her injuries.  This haunts Mr. Charro as he said in interviews, after; but her selfless service to her community as a nurse, and his humanity, his bravery, and his strength all still stand.  

We all make sense of the world around us and how we experience it through a lens partly made up of what we know, what we've experienced, our beliefs, our values, and what we dream of or hope for.  When I hear of the unassuming and selfless heroes that do what they can to protect or assist those in danger during or after these horrors, I find that I eventually think of how their action to help reminds me of the power, hope, and even the better in the world that (even if in a less remarkable way) nonprofit organizations - ones that truly exist and operate to do good in our world - instill in our communities and the futures we who know of their successes envision.

I do not wish, here, to belittle anyone or anything that is perhaps more remarkable, but rather to share my train of thought after learning about the horror of any crime against the unassuming or innocent, but especially how I thought in the days after the Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre, in particular.  I think my perspective is a way that I used not to try to make sense, but rather to see the world while knowing that such horrific evil exists and occurs.  Using my frame of reference of the world (as I experience it) this thought of nonprofits being (usually but of course not always) a force for good helped me to cope - to feel something like 'O.K.' (as best I can) about a world in which such shattering wrongness happens.  It's not that nonprofit's intention to good balances any of these tragedies.  Rather, remembering the victims and the wonderful people they were as recounted after by their loved ones, remembering the selfless heroism of the first responders, remembering the heroes during the violence and their deeds, and yes, even remembering that most nonprofits operate with a genuine interest to do good helps some semblance of hope and humanity come back into my view, after hearing about horrific ordeals.  Nothing removes the pain.  Nothing makes it all better.  But, the hope, strength, will of some to help, and their actions is truly heartening.  "Heartening".  That's a good word for how, at least in part, I've coped.  I've found a way to take heart.

In taking heart, I have located hope and even the joy of this season and of the coming new year, even while I feel sadness and compassion.

In this spirit, to you, I extend a wish: Belated Happy Hanukkah, Belated Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Kawanzaa, Blessed Ramadan, and best wishes in the new year.

Follow Up: Published July 18, 2013 Tracking the Funds for Newtown Relief

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