Posted with great sorrow by Steps to Recovery on December 15, 2012

It is with deep sadness and a very heavy heart that I write this post, in response to the shocking tragedy that occurred yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. As a human being in general, but especially as a mother, it is really hard to hear about and process such atrocities in our world. It is only human to try to figure out why someone would do this, and how this could possibly happen in our world. I don’t believe that we will ever truly know the answers to those questions, but what can we do to try to deal with these things in a productive and supportive manner?

I don’t believe that screaming out about stricter gun laws is the answer, although many people are using this to further their political agenda. I feel like that is a very disconnected response to something so horrible. The answer here is not about weapons, it’s about how we, as a community, can help and support people who are sick, people who are hurting, people who are being passed up time and again but who are clearly in need. This is about mental illness and what we can do to be more supportive of people who are suffering from it. I have read that this young man had diagnosed mental illness and had been displaying unusual behavior for some time. What could have been done to help him?

How someone must be feeling, to do something like this. How disconnected, unheard, misunderstood, unwanted, how much pain someone must have. He must have felt like no one valued him, and he didn’t value himself to disregard human life in such a way. How can we help people who feel this way, as a community, what can we do? We have become so disconnected from each other, from ourselves. We fill our lives with TV and computers, and authentic connection with other people face to face is disappearing. What a lonely world we are going into, if this is to continue.

The answer lies in ourselves. How can we reach out to each other? How can we support each other? First we must really be paying attention, we must really be listening. We must put aside our human reaction to just react to whatever is in front of us, whatever someone is saying to us, we must connect with our hearts and really listen to what our deepest selves are saying to us. Take 5 seconds to sit with whatever someone tells you before you respond to them and really think about it. Actively listen. Listen with your heart. We must look around ourselves with deep observation and really see where people are, and meet them there with love and compassion. Notice the people next to you, how is their energy? Can you reach out to them, even with just a smile? Acknowledge them, notice them, appreciate them as they are. Talk to people, listen to people, love them.

If things are to change, we must come back to community. We must be concerned for others. My heart goes out to the whole world, as all humans are affected by this and other tragedies like it. All my love goes out to the families and loved ones directly affected by the actions of this one sick person. All of my compassion goes out to the young man who was in so much pain he felt he needed to do something so horrible. I can think of this and surround it all with love. We have to love each other, if we want things to change.

What are you doing to cope with this tragedy? How can you lift your community up and create change for a better world?