A small group of artists and leaders in the field of peacebuilding came together to reflect on the roots of compassionate presence. As they shared their stories, I was struck by the way artists shine a light on what might be, even in the midst of bleak violence.
Might we put aside our frustrations and be gentle with our children? Might we have real conversations about values? Might we all just stop and breathe and think about peace in our lives and peace in our world?
"Run," he cried, and having jogged the survival instincts of his nine classmates, having woken them to the possibilities still there before them, Jesse went down, the first fresh bullet cutting his young life short.
We need to love our children without taking the miracle of their lives for granted. We need be present to their warm, silly joy when it passes by us on the street. We should look them in the eyes with gentle sincerity, letting them know that they matter and that we are so very glad that they are here.
There have been many people writing and remembering about the tragedy of a year ago. The unimaginable actions that happened at that school. There are others like that one. When I reminded myself of my many blessings, I hugged my child that much harder. He didn't understand the extra tight squeeze and I didn't explain.
This week delivered another stark lesson in the difference between a real scandal and a manufactured one. On Tuesday, President Obama was photographed at the Nelson Mandela memorial service taking a selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, thus kicking off #selfiegate. This happened just before the president apparently destroyed America by shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro -- at a ceremony honoring a man for, among other things, rising above old hatreds and promoting reconciliation between former enemies. Attracting far less social media fury was the fact that an estimated 28,000 people, including almost 200 children, have been killed by gun violence in the year since Newtown -- or that under the Murray-Ryan budget deal being worked out, extended unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans will abruptly end on December 28. Maybe for Christmas, we should all ask Santa for a more well-placed sense of outrage.
Flowers die, candles snuff out, food is eaten or goes bad and is thrown in the trash. What is remembered is how people acted. We became a nation of friends who took care of each other.
Whether a shocking massacre, or solitary assault with a rifle, the prevalence of gun violence in this nation is the best evidence we have of the genuine moral paralysis of government.
The discussion focuses on firearms policy entirely and nothing else it seems. We're a society with no imagination when it comes to violence. But mightn't there be another approach? An approach that doesn't look purely at guns and who owns them and who kills who?
December has always been a miraculous time. It marks the season in my life when I labored with both my children on the same date, in different years: December 14. But I cannot help but think of a community not so very far from my own. December 14 marks a very different day for them.
I am not trying to convince the government to take your guns away. I'd just prefer for you to not want them.
Vicki's act of selflessness on the morning of December 14th transformed what I thought leaders looked like and where I thought they worked. What I learned from Vicki is leaders don't always have teams or followers.
We may never know why the shooter did what he did, but we must work together to explore every possible avenue to protect our children and prevent further gun violence.
Every elected official should ask: Have I done enough to substantially reduce the likelihood that this ever happens again?
In their enthusiasm for the promotion of more guns wielded by more people in more places, they have trampled American's rights as enumerated by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and petitioning our government for changes in the laws.
While common ground shouldn't be that hard to find, the political reality is that this won't happen until our elected officials feel the pressure from the public, and the NRA feels the pressure from its supporters, to be willing to compromise.