Dear Fellow Citizens,
When I saw the Dec.14 news headlines flash in front of me, my stomach and throat went tight, my breath became uneven, my heart felt anguish, and I began to sob, saying, “Oh dear God, how does something so horrific like this happen?” It is beyond comprehension.
I am no stranger to either the human acts of darkness, or to the sudden death of a little child. Both can leave one traumatized, raw, aching, angry, questioning, and searching for peace to heal. I also have a young child who is my treasure and my light, and was thankfully able to hug her that afternoon when she got off the school bus. As such, the sympathy I feel today for the parents, families, and friends of the precious lives lost, and what feels like the wounded soul of our country, envelops me.
So much has transpired in my thoughts over this incident. Yet, my thoughts always bring me back to a clear active question: what can we do as citizens of our country to prevent such tragedy in the future?
In a prior lecture I heard by Deepak Chopra, he mentioned something to the effect, “For every event in this universe, there is an opposite seed.” What is an opposite seed? To me, it means we can counter the seed of this tragic event by planting and cultivating a seed into something truly constructive, effective, positive, and healing for the love of the lives lost, the family and friends left behind, the survivors, and for the wellbeing of our country.
Functional Medicine focuses on treating causes not symptoms, meaning you seek out the root of why something is wrong and treat it accordingly, so the symptoms do not occur anymore. Isn’t that what we’re really looking at here in the aftermath? What is the root cause of violence in our homes, streets, and communities? Isn’t that what we should be addressing? The expressed violence is a symptomatic result of the root cause at hand here. There are various reasons why these situations happen: obviously mental instability is a key component, but what brings people there? There can be chemical imbalances, cultural insensitivity and intolerance, frustration with situations such as bullying, poverty, or hopelessness, which builds to anger and explosion, lack of conflict resolution skills, dysfunctional and violent situations at home, role modeling unhealthy behaviors, people strung out on drugs desperate for their next fix and losing all sense of reality, and the list goes on. It’s intimidating, complex, and overwhelming, isn’t it? Adding to the complexity, there is actually pain behind the people who perform these dark acts. It’s difficult for most us to think about it from that perspective, when we’re left with only empty arms for the innocent victims we love and lost, and the immense pain caused to those left to grieve and survive. How can we put this perspective into perspective?
Consider for a moment that maybe our country displays symptoms of being out of balance, and we are not holistically well. In my training, we learn that wellbeing is not just about food, it’s a 360 degree approach to wellness. It’s also about having a purpose in life, creating healthy, happy relationships with ourselves and others, establishing healthy physical outlets, and becoming aware and connecting with our spiritual self. This is whole wellness.
As a country, we are thankfully good at coming together in crisis, as demonstrated with the response to Hurricane Sandy, and already demonstrated in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. In the Western medical world, we are also thankfully good at addressing acute medical situations with surgery and/or life saving drugs, but we are not very good at preventing most of these medical situations from unnecessarily occurring in the first place. We need to be able to come together in crisis “and” in prevention on multiple levels.
I’d like to think we can come together more consistently as a society without being in the face of crisis. Rather, we can consistently work together toward preventing developing dysfunctional issues into violent crisis events. So I ask you to stop just for a few minutes, and imagine a country where we are truly more balanced, and the happier and healthier for it. It doesn’t guarantee there will never be darkness: life is bittersweet. Yet, where there is darkness, there is also light. The question is, how do we become more of the light and less of the dark?
When we start healing with ourselves, it has the power to create a positive domino effect, impacting our families, friends, neighbors, and communities as a whole. Additionally, each of us has an expertise and talent, be it hidden or realized, that we bring to the table. Can we cast away our prejudgement of people to make way for the possibilities and potential of one another? Can we search for constructive, developmental, supportive, respectful, caring, dignified ways in creating a holistically healthier environment to be a part of? What can this potentially look like? I think if we put our heads together, the list could be endless. For the moment, let’s start with the possibility of teaching conflict resolution, cultural tolerance, and acceptance of personal differences in our schools, inviting in the wisdom of our elders into our lives, cultivating meaningful life skills that help us care for ourselves and others, restorative justice, mentoring and for every person mentored, they too become a mentor creating a growing circle of knowledge and support in the community, advocating and learning how to be our own advocates, easily accessing respectful care for those that cannot care for themselves, or may potentially become a threat to themselves and others, and restorative healing to name just a few. It’s not that any of this doesn’t already exist in one form or another. It exists in fragments, and for many situations there are only selected groups on the receiving end. Additionally, there are currently limited service resources. The red tape to access these resources often becomes too cumbersome to navigate.
Maybe it’s also about creating a community task force made up of professionals, homemakers, students, elders, entrepreneurs, employers, healthcare, law enforcement, local government and community organizations, social services and a few people from the populations they serve, looking together at the challenges to be addressed in the community. It’s amazing what can happen when people come together to work toward a vision. The resources become abundant. We are human beings with extraordinary capacity. If we are inspired by a vision for each of our communities, I believe we can achieve extraordinary accomplishments. Over time our investment becomes imbedded in the community culture, evolving into self-propelling engines of wellbeing for our children to carry on, and generations to come. All we need to do is start building the engine and ignite it with our own doing. As my father always says, “Doing it, does it.” It all starts with believing in our own God given powers, our higher Self. It really is that simple if we all just start. Where there is a steadfast vision, there is a path that leads to its realization, even if it’s not all known from the first step. That’s what faith means. Since we are in the season of giving, it’s the greatest gift I can think of to carry on the light of those lost on Dec. 14. We can call it “Sandy’s Light.” Imagine that beaming across the nation.
Well, I took my leap of faith in writing this, I was compelled to share my voice, which I’ve never done quite like this before. I felt I had no choice, as it was my way of doing something, my way of awakening others to think beyond where we are right now, my way of making sense of this sometimes crazy world, and my way of healing. When we truly heal, we find a place of forgiveness as difficult as it sounds, but it’s what truly frees us. It took me years to understand that. We also become more courageous, we don’t run from what scares or hurts us inside, and we don’t choose to hide any more. We choose to embrace what can be, because that is our beacon of light pulling us out of the darkness.
No matter our differences across the nation, I think we can all agree that the parents, families, and friends of those lost on Dec. 14 need our loving thoughts and prayers. For those who live in the Newtown, CT community, here is an opportunity to take your first step in supporting them, listening to them, holding them, and just letting them know you are there when needed. We’re not just talking for today, a week, or a month from now, but however long it takes for them to see the light again. I hope you’re there when they start to smile and laugh once again, because it will fill your heart with a joy you may have never known.
For those of us who want to light the way to a healthier and happier country, let’s get to work in our own communities, where ever you are, however you can; let’s be Sandy’s Light.