Deep Obligation

Disbelief. Denial. For who walks into a Kindergarten class and shoots children?

Then the questions. Who? Why? How? Why? WHY?

Followed up with a deeply felt anger. Anger at the shooter, society, gun laws, politics, myself for wanting to pretend I never saw this and go back to my morning of peace.

Then I am thankful, so very thankful for my family and friends being safe and healthy right now. Then guilt for being so fortunate. Then certain I just jinxed my good fortune. Then angry again.

After reading the Mr Rogers quote,

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

the anger starts to give way to the love and compassion of the whole world in the wake of this horrific event. I knew that is what I needed to focus on because pleading ‘why’s’ was never going to give way to a suitable answer, for there is no sense in the senseless.

So it is that I, we all, have flowed through an ocean of emotions. A mere inkling of what the families are experiencing.

You know, I started to read a lot of people saying they were hugging their kids tighter, cuddling for longer and it is true, we take more moments of greater gratitude at all that we have.

But there is another side too. One that is not so easy to explain in a concise facebook update.

Because I don’t know about you, but just as I’d have moments of full gratitude and cuddles, I also had moments where I just wanted to be alone, away from my kids, to process it all. Moments where I went overboard preaching to my kids (seemingly out of nowhere to them) about kindness and compassion. Moments where I overreacted to their moments of not acting so kind. Moments where I barked at them for running in to surprise me because that meant I had to fumble around to mute or change the channel from the news I was watching and didn’t want them to see. Moments of annoyance at my family, then guilt about feeling annoyed, then annoyed again because really, do I have to pick up everything all the time. Oh, there’s the guilt again.

So okay, I’ve hugged my kids tighter too, but then one pulled away and one demanded a back rub and I laugh because, well this is life. And oh, there it hits, complete gratitude floods me as I take in all this life. The nitty gritty messy beautiful chaotic joy that is life.

Too many beautiful people were robbed of that. That so pisses me off. And saddens me to the core. And has me hug a little longer. Emotions raw, it also has me quick to grumble at my kids or appreciate a little deeper, depending on the moment.

We are all processing in our own way and as we do, we now also must look towards how we can take action, in our own way, to prevent such a thing ever happening again.

My words stopped there because how do you summarize or wrap up the complexity and shear horror of the unthinkable. I stepped away from the computer to make a gingerbread loaf with my girl, then I read what Obama said today and it resonated.

“If there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any one of these events, we have a deep obligation – all of us – to try.”

Deep obligation. All. Of. Us.

No need to point fingers, I think, at the problem (depending on who you are, this could be gun lobbyists, politicians, a country, the shooter, society, bullies…) because the reality is, there are a myriad of ways that this could have been prevented.

Obama goes on to say that “the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

We all have a role to play in making change. Some small, some large, all significant. Time to act.


One thought on “Deep Obligation

  1. Oh, I so appreciate the honesty that comes through in this post – and the space for difference in how we all respond. I found myself questioning my own response to this. I first went into helper mode and wished that I could be there to comfort families in their grief and then felt guilty because my first thought wasn’t about my own girls. And sure I hugged and kissed a little differently when I did the pick ups, but as soon as we walked in the door it was “after school” routine and the unpacking chaos that goes into that. Again, more guilt for not straying from this routine – to hug again or to just let it be a more peaceful experience – but especially because so many parents who had just lost their child would be longing for just this very sense of every day chaos and not be feeling such traumatic loss. This systemic issue is so huge, and so complex, yet as individuals I too believe that we can do something to stimulate change – to change a pattern or path in someone’s life. My guess is that, as parents, it might even come back to how we cultivate a sense of ‘love’, ‘belonging’, ‘compassion’ (and so much more). Such good ingredients to grow up on and spread in our relationships.

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