Apr 16, 2013

'A little bit of something' instead of 'a whole lot of nothing'

Yesterday a bomb took the life of an 8 year old boy at the Boston Marathon.
Actually, every day, bombs take the lives of innocent children in countries torn by violence.
But when young Martin, cheering on runners with his family at the finish line, paid the highest price for someone else's rage, it hit too close to home.

As we start to gather together our dismay into one big throbbing ball of horror at the world we are leaving to our kids, I think we should stop a moment to think.

Hasn't there always been rage and disproportionate responses in the world?
Haven't a few motivated people with grievances always crafted the shape of our future?
Haven't we always reacted bu first shrinking back in horror then striking out in rage against it?

And has this ever worked to correct imbalances?
No amount of outrage will bring back that smiling 8 year old or piece back his family in their old image. Or fully restore any of the other victims. We cannot fix this anymore than we can un-scar Bostonians whose city and public spaces are now stripped of security and a feeling of belonging.

Oh, Bostonians will rebound, don't worry. Everyone rebounds.  But we can do more....instead of venting our our dismay and rage we can harness it. Amidst all that we CAN'T do right now is all that we CAN do with our mental energies.

We can seek to restore some balance by looking out for the things that are good and right amidst all this horror.

I'm not saying we embrace inaction and condone terrorism. Just that for the most part, terrorist acts are beyond our range of influence. But if we do pause to think of 'action' I can't see any better way to respond to those who seek to un-hinge us by showing cohesiveness that blasts THEM out of their socks.

So what IS within our reach? The community around us.
We can connect with other to ease our pain, support each other and help ourselves through the challenges we face every day. We can all care just alittle bit more, reach out a little bit more and feel the stable groudn beneath our feet when everything around us seems to be shaken by tremors. We cannot right all the wrongs but instead of doing a whole lot of nothing we can do a little bit of something.

I for one want to be more mindful about identifying Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) and enacting Incremental Change that Touches (ICT). To describe what is good an right about the world so that we feel motivated to do more of it.


Kindness and caring will spread and touch people as much as rage and despair but only if we are as effective in spreading it.

Will you join me in recalling a RAK and ICT every day?

A Random Act of Kindness (RAK) is something you have experienced, something you can describe as 'They didn't have to do this. But they did'. An Incremental Change that Touches (ICT) is something you might have done for someone, something you can describe to yourself as 'I didn't have to do this. But I did'. Not to be smug about it, but award yourself due respect so that you continue 'doing' instead of burning-out.

I'm not saying we unnecessarily exalt the regular compassion that every empathetic human ought to have. I don't think we should lower the bars of just regular humanity in any way. But when we focus on the horrors amidst us without giving fair time to the tiny expressions of thoughtfulness as well as the soaring acts of kindness that are there too, we demotivate our neighbors and describe a hopeless world to them. One that seems beyond their influence and that enervates them into being passive commentators. THIS is what fuels terrorism in my opinion: that people give up, give in and move just a small step at a time away from humanity in the grip of rage and despair.

So here's to celebrating all the good and giving small, small actions wings:

Random Act of Kindness (RAK): April 16, 2013
Thanks to the ice cream server at Moozy's ice-cream shop in Belmont.
    We ended up there yesterday after a hike with 6 yr old Oyon and his buddy Noah. She served Noah a  serving of gummy worm toppings that he belatedly asked for. Just so that his and Oyon's cone toppings would match. We hadn't paid for it and she brushed away my thanks.
She didn't have to do that. But she did.

Incremental Change that Touches (ICT): April 16, 2013
We didn't really help anyone in particular yesterday but we did share our hiking snacks and extra nature watching telescopes with 2 kids (and their Dad) whom we met in the woods. It enhanced our day as much as theirs. We connected to strangers instead of looking away.

 A weekend marathon of the Star Wars trilogy produced these interesting reactions:

Friday night = Star Wars:
Me (on first sight of the bad-guy Imperial star fighter): Wow! That is SO cool!
Oyon: Why did you say that?! Thaty's the bad guy! Yo'ure not supposed to say 'wow' to the baddies!
Me: But I think the space craft is cool, not the bad guys.
Oyon (a bit puzzled): Oh.

Saturday night = The Empire Strikes Back
Oyon's reaction to Yoda's age: "Yoda got 900 Christmases?!!"
After watching Chewbacca and the Ewok's bring down a bad-guy Imperial tank: That's easy! When I was at Fun World (an arcade), I defeated SO many of these!

Sunday night = The Return of the Jedi
Oyon: So Mammam, is 'the force' good or bad? Darth Vader was a bad guy and had it but so did Luke and he was a good guy!
Me: That's a tough one. What do YOU think?
Oyon: Maybe it's both? When Darth Vader hurt people it was the Dark Side, when Luke helped, it was good. So it's the stuff they DO with the force, I think..
Me: You know, I think I agree. Thanks for clarifying.
Oyon: You're welcome, Mammam.

Oyon, Noah, bare-feet tucked under the table after ruining shoes in muddy ponds hunting for fairy shrimp and faces tucked into generously awarded gummy-worm ice cream toppings. The good things in life are small.

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