We all have a role to play

I started PLANK as a place to discuss things I enjoy … activities that enhance my life, like entertaining, gardening and cooking; as well as topics related to love, life and family. A platform for inspired living … that’s what I hoped to create.

But this week, as I considered recipes, holiday decorations and other typical topics, my heart and mind just weren’t in it. Instead, my heart and mind were with the families and victims of last week’s shooting in San Bernardino. How could I write about my favorite holiday stuffing, or how I plan celebrate the holidays, when so many families won’t be celebrating at all?

When I started this blog, I imagined it being a platform for discussion on many topics; but I never intended for it to be anything close to political. And that’s still the case, but this week I just can’t pretend that this isn’t a preventable situation or that politics won’t play a vital role in such prevention. This doesn’t have to be our new normal. We absolutely can do something about innocent people being gunned down every single day. We must do better.

Last week, as news of this horrific attack got out, I was overcome with so many emotions and feelings … fear, sadness, anger … and not the least of which, helplessness. Not just because this one hit so close to home, but also because it was one more. One more terrifying attack on innocent people going about their everyday lives. One more instance of people being attacked in the places they work, or live or play. One more reason to live in fear.

In the hours and days that have followed the shooting, I’ve read many articles, seen countless social media posts and watched many news accounts of what lead to the unimaginable actions of Dec. 2. People on both sides of the gun control issue, or people voicing their concerns related to everything from religion and immigration to the refugee crisis and where we’re headed as a nation.

So much speculation, analysis and commentary … It can all seem so overwhelming. What can I do? What can any one of us do?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve gathered that I’m not someone to sit by and wait for things to happen. No, I’m not a politician and I certainly don’t know how to craft legislation, but I do know I have to do something. Something to get my mind focused on others and helping, and out of the cycle of fear, anger and helplessness that can sometimes paralyze us.

And whether that something is an attempt to directly address this situation or an effort to show love and give back to the community around us, we can all find a way to feel like we’re contributing in times like this. We can get up, get moving and empower ourselves by taking some action … taking control of what we can. Give blood. Volunteer to work with troubled teens. Even something as simple as baking cookies to welcome the new neighbor down the street. Sometimes, a simple act of kindness can change so much. No, those things won’t prevent massacres, but for me, anything that connects me to my fellow humans helps take away some of the helplessness.

Some of you may be motivated to take your actions further, like contacting your elected officials (sites like thisthis and this can help) or volunteering to serve on some task force looking into this issue. Big or small, there’s something for each of us to do … a role we can all play in making this a safer, happier, more loving and more peaceful world in which to live.


  1. Let’s take a moment to also remember those babies lost three years ago. At the time, I literally lived on the other side of the US from them, but I cried and I cried for them and their families. I still cry from time to time to this today. Those little ones were only a year older than my oldest.

  2. I’m also a teacher. Maybe it’s just that as we get older we forget the most important lessons we’ve learned. My favorite phrase to use when I’m speaking to kids about behaviors is “Be kind.” That says it all. People who are kind don’t hurt others physically or emotionally. They don’t call each other names. They don’t hit each other…or kill each other.

    Be respectful. Be kind. Try your best. These are the three golden rules in most schools where I’ve worked. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all started following them again?

  3. jennifer

    So beautifully written.
    This tragedy has been weighing on my heart and mind as well. I believe too that everyone can do something to make our world so much better and help prevent it from becoming worse.
    I feel that with all the technology we are dependent upon today, we have lost a lot of human-to-human interaction. We forget that a simple smile or saying ‘Hello, how are you?” to a stranger, can make such a difference in someone’s life, especially if that person is going through a tough time or just having a bad day.
    My 10- yr-old and I were talking about why people may not be able to go home for Christmas. After much discussion and her learning that some people don’t even have homes to go to, she wanted to invite those people to our house for Christmas. My thought is if a 10-yr-old can find kindness in her heart and a ‘solution’ to a problem, then we as adults can find a way to make this world a better, safer, and more peaceful place to live.

  4. Christine

    I live in Colorado Springs where we had a shooting on the day after Thanksgiving. I totally agree with you. I believe in random acts of kindness. I love showing up at the dentist office or my car mechanic’s shop with bake goods. If we all spread a little kindness it will go a long way.

    • What a wonderful blog. The tragedy in San Bernadino has to be a wake up call for people. There is evil in the world and we have to do all we can to make the love shine through after these horrible things happen. Love will lead the way if people are willing to try.

  5. Yes Yes Yes. Like Mr. Rogers said “when tragedy strikes look for the helpers.” I will take it a step further and say Be the helper. Thanks for the words today.

  6. Well said MB! I teach school and the one thing that is big for me in the position that I hold is that everyone know they are safe and loved. I teach at risk children, and they live lives, and see things no child or person needs to see. And I do my best to develop relationships with these individuals; therefore, everyday I make sure they are met with a smile and hug. Just a simple good morning, a hug, or just a have a great day goes a long way. I know bc of the upbringing that I had, I can’t relate to parents not being there for them and provide love and a home. But I do know that everyday I can show them that I love them, and it pays off in their later years to have them come back and let me know that I made a difference in their lives. I had one of my kiddos tell me that sadness those families are going through could be improved with a hug and a somebody loves you note; that is when the teacher in me comes out and the notes of love and caring begin.

  7. Nello DiCostanzo

    Mary Beth, your words are inspirational, I love your spirit. Hopefully we can all do some acts of kindness, in this holy time of the year. Imagine if everyone would call their political leaders and tell them that gun control laws need to tougher. The leaders may actually do something.
    I really love your blog, I wish you and your family health, and happiness this Christmas and always. Wish you and Stephen Nichols would come to Toronto and do a luncheon like you did in LA, been a fan of Days for 40 years, grew up watching with my grandma, as she babysat me, since I was 7, and she was like the real Alice Horton. Being dad of 3 young boys, it is nice to get ideas on how we can all do something to make the world a better place. Days is #1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    Days #1 Fan

  8. Hi Marybeth your post is so true . We have to do all that we can to make others days be as happy and positive as we want to feel. It’s through caring for others that we find what is important to us and that we are all the same .Trying to do our best to be happy and positive despite the circumstances we keep reading about and seeing on the news. If we all reach out to each other more we can grow to feel more connected a little more each day. Merry Xmas to you and your family .

  9. Lorraine (dramamamanot)

    Hi Marybeth,
    I have to tell you about a little experiment I did last week. I spent some time walking passed people. Rarely did they acknowledge me. I then spent the rest of the day smiling at everyone. Each person smiled back or smiled and then said something. Smiling is an ice breaker and shows people that you are friendly and approachable. I felt really good that day. I am sure or at least I hope I made someone who was having a bad day to feel just a little bit better. Did I stop the massacres? No, of course not, but I am sure people would much rather be greeted with a smile than a gun. Try it! See your responses. Then tell us your experience.

  10. I love this Mary Beth! Great post! I admire you for sharing on such an important issue, and sharing some great ways for everyone to get involved! We do need more people to be aware of whats going on around us, and realize that helping out and giving is a great way to start to make it better!

  11. So well expressed…. If each of us slowed down and considered our actions what a difference it might make…. From the aggressive driving on the highway to barking our frustration at the sales clerk because the lines are long. We all seem to get caught up in small things when in the larger picture, what you were upset about isn’t quite so important in the grand scheme of things. ….

  12. I do feel helpless, MB. I feel helpless, I feel angry, and I feel like the love and positivity I try so hard to maintain is being chipped away by not just the massacres, but then the political fallout that inevitably causes vast rifts in family and friendships. Your post is so timely. And it’s such a good message. Be good to each other. Be kind. Care and connect. Thank you for prodding me to cut thru the pervasive anger and hopelessness.

  13. Terri Martin

    Ditto. I always say, “be the change you want to see in others” and always pay it forward. Is has to start with us! 🙂 Blessings to you and yours from Cincinnati, OH.

  14. Well said, Mary Beth. I have never responded to a blog but in this case, I felt moved. This time of year, is all about kindness, no matter what religion, but people tend to forget, as they are running around trying to find the perfect gift or deciding on their holiday menus.
    Every day should be about giving and kindness; as you stated it doesn’t need to be would be amazed at what a smile does for some people. We need to connect with each other as human beings, we all need to know that compassion, understanding and love are still out there in this world; I believe it is! There is no better time to start living that than now, one small act, that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling!
    My heart and sorrow go out to all the family and friends of all the massacres around the world, we are not alone. Peace to all.

  15. Mary Beth,

    Such a profound blog – it echos what so many of us are feeling, including the helplessness and the fear. The title of this blog says it all. We live in a world where we often don’t interact with people until we are hit with some tragedy. Some many of us are there to help in tragedies – now we have to be there before the tragedy occurs. A very heartfelt blog – I enjoy all your blogs and look forward to each Thursday, they never disappoint.

  16. So beautifully put MaryBeth! It made me tear up a bit. I do believe that by doing even small acts of kindness it can impact someone greatly and you receive so much more. Thank you for your weekly blogs they are so well thought out♥

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