So I’ve spent the day locked in an edit room with the internet. As some of you know, writing for me doesn’t pay the bills, so I work as a producer at an advertising agency. Part of my job is to supervise the editing of TV commercials, so today of all days, I was stuck in an edit suite with a laptop. Since ten o’clock this morning, I’ve seen literally everything. There was someone on Facebook calling for Barack Obama to outlaw weapons outright. Someone went on a rampage, retweeting old NRA posts over and over. I saw the CNN errors, the wrong shooter identified, microphones stuck in the mouths of young children, unable to articulate a full sentence, let alone recount the horrors of the day. Tomorrow, I was going to go to Santacon in New York City …now that just feels like the wrong thing to do …drink in a Christmas costume? that’s just inappropriate right now.
My mom teaches kindergarten…she’s taught it for over a decade. Her kids learn to read, write …they do fun activities …grow bacteria on potatoes and learn how to plant plants. For the first time in some of their young lives, these children feel feelings. They long for their parents, make their first friends, and get the first chance to be on their own. I always thought my mother’s job was a privilege …to be perhaps the first true guiding force for boys and girls who will become women and men.
In the midst of all this, I read a quote from Mr. Rodgers:
"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.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
I heard people write about a lack of humanity …but I encourage you to remember how you feel at this moment, right now …angry, outraged, disgusted, miserable, sad, helpless. However you feel, whatever spectrum it is, just remember it …remember the teachers and friends you grew up with who guided you and helped you. You can’t outlaw bad things …you can take preventative measures, but evil is evil and it was there in the beginning before us and it will be there long after we’re gone. The best thing we can do is own our feelings …take the time to formulate coherent messages of encouragement and hope and even when it doesn’t feel possible, to remember how lucky we were to get to grow up and form ourselves. Blame is a sticky word. It goes where we put it and it stays there.
You’re feeling a lot of feelings. I am too. There’s nothing wrong with being mad, but you owe it to yourself to be introspective. Don’t toss your emotions around carelessly. Those children will never get to feel as acutely as you do right now. So be in this moment, but don’t waste it. Turn off the news, close Facebook and Twitter, be with your friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents. Feel the heat or the cold outside …take a breath and feel your lungs push out. Take someone’s hand that you care about …be the antithesis of every evil thing you’ve seen today.