Newtown, Connecticut Shooting Puts the Year Behind, and the Year Ahead, in a New Perspective

It’s usually at this time of year when I write my yearly round-up.  I mean, not that anyone gives a lick, but I like to write it.  It makes me feel better about things, and it always helps to get some perspective going into a fresh 365 days.

There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

And, after all, the Mayans are telling us the end is near (it’s not–it’s actually a new beginning) this December 21, 2012, so…I felt like it was time to do it.

But I held off for the last few days.  I didn’t write it until today.

Why?

Well, the December 14 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  26 killed.  I realized that the year behind, and the year ahead, were already squarely in perspective.

I read an article about the global outpouring of support for the victims’ families and the Newtown community and it really got me thinking, again, about the line we walk in our world between global animosity and global togetherness.  We are so close to being a world community.  The reason we seem so far apart is likely not due to your average person’s difference of opinion, but more to do with unfortunate leadership around the world.

People on their own are generally good.  At least, that’s what I choose to believe.  If you need help in a parking lot or at the side of the road, most good Samaritans won’t ask your political affiliation or your view on the Second Amendment, abortion, or the last election.  They’ll just assist.  If you drop a dollar, many people will pick it up and yell, “Hey!  Wait!”

Most people.  Not all.

We don’t generally have litmus tests for basic assistance or casual acquaintance.  Some do, yes.  Many don’t.  If you’re American and dining in Canada, the service will be like it is for any Canadian.  At a resort in Mexico, it’s okay to speak Russian.  Indian curries are fine to cook in Italy, and I had darn good roast beef in Kenya many years ago even though I’ve experienced it in an NYC deli as well.  We share religions across borders, appreciate or take on foreign customs, and see movies about events that take place many miles, or countries, away.

Not everyone is on board with this.  Some are.  That’s fine.

So, when I think about Newtown in what Paul Simon might call this “deep and dark December,” I prefer to think about the outpouring of support from around the globe.  Of the prayers that go out to those we don’t know.  Nobody I know really cares if the victims were Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or whatever.  We all turned on the TV to see the shock of lives lost.  Not Christian lives lost, but lives.  Not Buddhist children lost, but children.  Tragically.  And worthy of memory.

As I sit here now and reflect back on this year, I see it was full of ridiculous stars full of themselves saying ridiculous things.  There were new launches of more TV shows about people famous for being famous.  I encountered darkness in the least likely of places, but then again, also saw light in unexpected corners of my days.  There was work in places I never thought I’d return, but then there was another job waiting right where I’d left it last January 1.  There was a third job that came from nowhere.  All around there was a bad economy, racism, hatred, bigotry, a hotly contested election, people living lives with bold attachment to lies when the truth was just a simple channel click, book, or class away.  There were those that screamed, and still insist, we should never help others, even in circumstances beyond their control, but there was also a policeman that put shoes right where they belonged and people pulling together in the aftermath of a terrible storm.  Some came down from the ledges of hard life.  Some jumped into a new adventure.  Some moved on for new adventures and some stayed firmly entrenched in their old prisons while the keys to freedom were dangling just outside their self-imposed cells.  I learned some new things, let go of some old, read new books from friends and discarded old book ideas of my own.  Blood, tears, death, and taxes all made their appearances, but so did new nieces and fresh ideas.  I wasn’t always happy.  I wasn’t always sad.  I helped.  I sat idle.  I received help.  I prayed.  I sent prayers.  I knew I was on a good road even when others thought I had somehow missed a really important turnoff.  Thank goodness I kept driving.

But then, there is Newtown, Connecticut.  And it all snaps into place again.  All possibilities collapse into one moment in December when fame, fortune, freedom, and fallacy don’t matter.  It’s all about a different energy.  I can’t describe it yet, but it was clear while watching the news last Friday.

I’m going to move into the new year the same way I always (try to) do.  With a sense of optimism, confidence in my decisions, and a desire to do a little better.  No, not how someone else with an agenda of their own thinks I need to do better, but how my gut tells me I need to do better.  Usually, people who tell you how you’re mistaken or screwed up are only trying to sell you their own version of events or brand of regret and…well…no thanks.  You can put that advice in your pocket!

So, let me leave you with this: A happy holiday season.  A happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers.  A blessed Christmas season for my Christian readers.  A happy Kwanzaa for my readers who celebrate.  And a happy travel down your chosen paths, whatever they are.

Let’s remember the most recent tragedy in America so we can figure out how we might move into 2013 with a different energy.  Let’s take a look at an event that matters, so that we know what we need to be in a different mindset this coming 365…a mindset of support, regardless of personal characteristics that, quite frankly, pale in comparison to what we have that we can share.

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