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 this, this 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.