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Monday, December 17, 2012

Moving past tragedy!

This started for me with the shooting in Portland, Oregon, where my middle daughter lives.  I was worried that by some oddball chance she was working at the store in that mall (she works for a chain) that day.  Then, I was worried she was shopping that day at that mall.

I am so sorry for the parents, family and friends of those killed, plus the emotional and mental scarring for life the people will suffer from. I worry about our country (notice I don't say our world). I worry about how society views those who are different.  We are so quick to judge those who are different.  We have a middle-aged handicapped man who lives in a facility here in my town.  He walks through town collecting bottles and cans to recycle to buy a soda.  He plays the harmonica pretty well, and today serenaded me with a couple of Christmas carols, bouncing up and down so the jingle bells on his santa hat would ring.  He gets upset sometimes, when something happens.  His nose runs and he drools a bit.  Most of our town accept him and treat him well.  There are some, however, who I know would rather he wasn't seen "out in public".  I've watched people turn away from those who look or act differently.  Now I hear the shooter in Connecticut described as "a very strange young man, very shy".  Hey, guess what, I'm pretty shy... If I think you don't like me, I'll be even quieter.  Does that make me very strange? So what now? Everyone who is quiet might be a mass-murderer? People died, families are hurting, even the families of the shooter.  I am sending prayers their way also.  No one raises a child thinking "some day they'll kill people". I have a personal history with a child making a threat, then saying he was joking. I feared for years about what might happen. But talking to the schools, his birth mother and the system didn't help, because they thought we were being paranoid.  Thank goodness nothing ever happened.  If a parent trys to voice concerns, they face isolation, hatred and disgust from their community. I am saying prayers for the families of the young shooters.  What pain must they be feeling? Can you even imagine?  Along with the loss of a family member, they must suffer the knowledge that that person did so much damage.  How many people are comforting them tonight? 

I worry about the end result of these tragedies.  What rights will all of us, as citizens, lose to satisfy the politicians and people who believe the only safe country is one where our right to bear arms is taken away.  My family owns guns, we hunt, and we target practice.  If my children wanted to hunt, they took hunter safety.  I like knowing if a predator is going after our livestock, I can protect them.  I like knowing I can defend my family if needed.  However, I am smart enough to realize that guns can be turned around and used against me. That means I need to know how to use our weapons safely.  I also need to know how to store them so they aren't accessible to other people.

I don't like to see children pretend to shoot things. Years ago, children knew the damage a gun could do. Today, video games and television have muted the reality.  I hear children yell "I'm gonna kill you" as they "play".  My grandma would'a smacked my face AND probably washed my mouth out with soap.  As a matter of fact, my babysitter wouldn't let me tell a playmate to "shut up". However, today a child can pretty much say what they want, in and out of the classroom.  I know teacher's are pretty much helpless when it comes to discipline, because parents don't believe their angel could do anything wrong. If you've spent anytime on the internet (and if you're reading this, you have), you've seen the posts about growing up, playing outside, not having cell phones, saying please and thank-you, etc.  So much of that isn't expected today.  We allow our children to show disrespect to others, to siblings, to families, to their parents.  When they are little, they all get ribbons and awards for participating and praised for everything.  We can't do anything to damage their self-esteem.  Then, a few short years later, when they are becoming aware, as pre-teens, it all changes.  They need to win the big game, get those excellent grades, fit in, and if they don't, then they are laughed at and made fun of.  I have heard children say some horrible things to their parents.  And the parents take it.  Of course, I've heard some parents say some pretty horrible things also.  Where is the respect that we, as a nation, should have for each other.  We are supposed to be a country that the other countries can look up to.  Instead, our politics, religions, lifestyles and reality shows are quickly turning us into a laughing stock. 

I wonder what I can do?  I certainly can't change my whole country, state, county or even town.  However, I can change myself.  I can have patience where I used to be abrupt, I can say hello instead of pushing past someone, I can give my viewpoint (if asked) instead of insisting that you must come around to my way of thinking, and I can love my family and friends.  I can help someone... Stop and pick up trash... Vote... There are so many little ways that I can start a change in my life.  I don't have to change the world today.  I just have to change me.

Life does go on, it's the holiday season.  For some reason, this time of year (no matter what religion, if any that you celebrate) brings a feeling of goodwill.  Our country has lost some beautiful children and some brave adults.  I'd like to say it won't happen again.  But, it probably will. And so, I must go forward, and focus on today, then the next day and so on.  I'm asking you to try and do the same.

And I'm wishing you a holiday season full of hope, joy and faith!


  1. Well, I have to agree with most of your post. When you say "What can we do to change..." and then list ways you can change, it definitely shows that it starts and ends with the individual. I also feel as you do concerning society and "different" people. I feel that our town is very accepting of the "different" people here. At least enough of us are so that if a person were to bash one of them someone would be there to set them straight.

    Your family and mine, as well as our friends families have the morals you mentioned like respect etc and we can't change other families but we can and do, lead by example.

    Don't stress on the nation or the world, but do continue to lead by example it will help make our community better.

    Thank you, Ruth, for being you ... someone I am proud to call my friend... someone I can take lessons from... someone I can trust to keep my kids safe both physically and emotionally... someone who is a valued member of our society...

  2. I love your post Ruth, and love that you obviously put so much thought into things. I sometimes remain quiet on news and political events on my blog (you know since you see me on Facebook, where I don't censor LOL) because I don't want to offend anyone, but honestly we all need to reflect and take each others' views into consideration when thinking about what we can do as a society and and individual to better things. One of the reasons I am for concealed weapons and trained carrying procedures is due to what you said, we cannot throw anyone who "looks funny" into an institution or take away their rights and freedoms. Trained armed citizens, law enforcement and even teaching staff should be able to give help unless they are in danger and then they also have another option for the protection of others. If we don't have that option of defending ourselves and our children, most people will automatically dismiss those that don't fit the mold and they are doomed without the ability to get help without people fearing them. I know I have a very different viewpoint since we are a military family and it is not unusual to see men and women in combat gear and uniforms wandering our school halls... it's because they are volunteering there as parents during work breaks, but I have to admit I feel very safe there with 98% of the kids in our elementary school having military/trained parents. Ah, I realize now I have made no sense since I am so tired of thinking about this and it's too early for me :)

  3. Your so right Ruth,I heard a Dr tell it like it is tho for many.It even happened gere to meclose by.A patient will go to the crisis dept at a hospital and what they get that patient to do is sign a contract,I will not harm myself or others.Thats all the ins company wants to see and the hospital says release them,The family I was referring to ,had a family member do exactly that and boom,the next day,kills his whole family,There is no true mental health in our country and that is so wrong because there are so many people need more.so much wrong direction these days ,depression is on going,What do you do when you feel so alone.isolated,broke, no answers anymore for anything,In have to admit even I have had bad thoughts from time to time,Sometimes life can be so over whelming

  4. Another well-written post, Ruth. Thank you.