It's just nine days 'ti; Christmas. It's coming fast. For far too many this will not be a happy season. All those families in Connecticut whose holiday was so cruelly disrupted will never see Christmas in the same way again. Their pain is felt around the world.
I wonder though, have we finally learned our lesson? Will that tragic event finally be the wake-up call we've been missing as each new tragic even sullies our civilized lives? I pray that it will, and fear that it won't make much more than a temporary dent in the madness that faces us every day.
Living in Chicago too many have become anesthetized to the horrors around us. Every day we read news of yet others who are mowed down by senseless violence in their homes and in our streets. Each day we immerse our thoughts and conversations in the whys and wherefores, we shake our collective heads and turn away albeit in disgust…only to go on as if all is well with the world because the tragedy didn't hit us directly.
Something has happened to us. We've become a whole lot less sensitive to the preciousness of life and the people around us. Too many see others as faceless distractions in the quest for self-validation.
I personally think that in large part to the dehumanizing effect of the internet and the graphic enactment of violence in movies and video games. The murder of innocents is the graphic manifestation of the death of our humanity and our increasing inability to connect with others. Until death hits home we are forced to recognize that when life ends it's final. The dead don't just get up to live another day.
Our current obsession with guns has, I'm sure, a lot to do with it. We don't need semi-automatics and high powered machine guns. Those are tools of war. Weapons only make sense if they're used to hunt for food. Even hunters understand that guns must be treated with the greatest of respect.
And it's time for us to grow up and learn that lashing out against another human being with any level of violence for any reason is just not acceptable behavior. Because, after all, violence breeds nothing but more violence.
But there's more. Have you noticed how rarely people talk – really talk to each other? How many conversations are one-sided with one or the other obsessed with their own experiences and thoughts so much that they don't even hear – much less care about – what their counterpart has to say? Have you noticed how much of our interaction with each other is mired in one-sided comments on Facebook and twitter? How many throw out statements (some good and some downright hurtful) to the universe on the internet with nary an attempt to understand differences of opinion?
And, let me ask you. Have you noticed the decline of face to face conversations and efforts to pick up the phone and talk with a friend…at the same time that Facebook and Twitter has overtaken our attention?
There's still time to change the momentum, though it might take some effort. This Christmas, in the light of the latest tragedy in Connecticut, is a perfect time to resolve to spend quality time with family and those we call "friends". Pick up the phone and ask how others are doing. Invite another to enjoy a spot of tea, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and make sure to have a two-way conversation with them. Hug a loved one a little bit tighter this holiday season and throughout the coming year. This is a gift we can give ourselves and each other that will have a cathartic effect on how we view life. It may even remind us that people, as a rule. are just as good and as loveable and worthy of respect as we are. And those who aren't may just be crying out for someone to recognize that they, too, hurt.