No longer current news, but still very relevant thoughts.
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6 October 2006
A few days ago I discovered I was only 5 degrees of separation from Emily Keyes, the 16 year old girl who was killed by the school shooter in Colorado last week.
This doesn't increase my reaction to the tragedy, or the reaction to any of the recent others, but it brings it closer to home. How soon will it be before someone I know personally has an experience like this? What if it happens to my family? What if it happens to me?
Millions of people have asked themselves that same question recently, and all have likely come to the same conclusion: I can do nothing to stop it.
As big a fan as I am of the idea that one person can change the world through positive energy and action, my ability to affect my fellow human beings is limited to those I can reach with my hands and, to some degree, my voice. But this certainly does not constitute control. If someone next to me on the bus kills everyone in a convenience store later that night over $20, I cannot blame myself.
This is a human plight. We have a need to take responsibility; we tell ourselves that a few kind words may have altered the mood or eased some pain, and XYZ tragedy could have been avoided. When we say this to ourselves...we are probably right in some cases. But we live in such fear that our personal bubble will pop or become polluted by contact with a stranger, or even with someone not so strange, that we talk ourselves out of reaching out. We are so afraid of each other that we dare not interfere. Or is it fear of exposure, and potential disapproval? Regardless of the reason, the result is the same: isolation and all its children: prejudice, fear, greed.
We all need safe places...physically, emotionally, etc., but wouldn't it be nice if we helped contribute a bit more? Jeez I'm starting to sound like John Lennon. (What, don't flatter myself? Fine...) But...just think about it a little. One day, it might all pay off, on that day when someone else decides the course of the rest of your days on this earth.