penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Hope is better than fear

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Over the next few days, many tears and a lot of ink are going to be spilled over Newton, Connecticut.  And they should.

It is an eerie coincidence that my children were practicing a lock down that same morning.  I asked my daughter about how she felt practicing a lock down – knowing that she had no knowledge that later that day children her age had been crouching in the corner of a class room in real terror.  She shrugged and said “Some kids don’t take it seriously. They make loud noises on purpose.”  I asked her if she knew what it was for and she said “If a stranger comes into the school.”  That was it.  I was loathe to explain why to her.

Later that evening, I became angry that we live in a world where it is necessary to have practice lock downs.  I was also thankful, because I know that the country and city we live in mean that it is highly unlikely that they will need to do it for real.  Nobody ever expects to.

Then I started to think about what these incidents and practicing for them means for our community.  I thought about where I stand in the midst of that.

I’ve lived with anxiety.  It’s not a pleasant companion.  It keeps you in the house.  It makes you lock the doors.  It makes you eye everyone around you with uncertainty.  In the long run, you barricade yourself in, physically, mentally and spiritually.  It keeps you from living or leaving the house.

If that is what it does to me, imagine what it might do to the community.  We become closed in.  We don’t participate. We lose perspective.  We turn away. Our streets become empty.

If that is what it does to a community, imagine what it does to us as a country.  We stop caring for those in need both in our own country and others.   Yet we are surprised by violence when it visits our doorstep.

How can this be changed?

The fact is, I can’t do anything to change the behaviour of others.  I can’t control someone who wants to gun down children.  I can’t force a country to implement gun control.  I can’t even stop my own country from dismantling a gun registry.

So what can I do?

I can live in hope. I can make my own changes that make a difference.

I can love my children, and teach them that growing up good is the most important thing – more important than being pretty or fame or fortune.  I can set a good example (although sometimes, this is the hardest thing of all). I can curb the sarcasm, I don’t need to kill with a look.  I can show them that violence is not the answer. 

I can love my partner, and support the good works he does both for our family and in the community.  I can have discussions rather than arguments. I don’t need to tear him down in front of the children.  We can spend time as a family and share our values.

I can participate in the various communities I belong in.  I can have empathy for co-workers that are going through tough times.  I can talk to people on the street and offer help. I can participate at my kids’ school and in community organizations – I can get out of my arm chair and volunteer my time. I can lend a hand and love my neighbour.

I can vote.  Not just federally, but provincially and most importantly, municipally.  I can give money toward charity and social programs that make lives better at the grass roots. I can go before councils, I can write letters, I can advocate and I can protest.  I can stand up for what I believe in.

I’m not going to pretend for one second that any of it is easy. 

At the end of the day I need to ask myself – who did I hurt and who did I help? 

Before he died, Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, wrote in a letter: “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

I am thinking of the people of Newton.  We need to grieve.  We must not forget.

We can’t fall into despair. We need to have hope so that we can make a difference.  Otherwise we all live in fear.

But first, I need to change myself. 

What are you going to do?

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Written by pennyinacastle

December 16, 2012 at 2:45 am

Posted in Random thoughts

Tagged with ,

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