Newtown-Searching for Perspective
December 17, 2012 (this is a little dated, over a year and a half old. But this is one of the really big drivers behind this personal crusade–influence, impact, community, connecting. And we cannot forget)
Newtown, added to the one-is-too-many growing list of incredibly tragic events….Can’t solve it here, can’t find a root cause for why. Can only reflect and grieve and let it out a little bit. This is a feeble personal attempt at coping with the senselessness.
Things happen that very rudely point out the need for perspective. Furthering the cause of values-based leadership and engagement pales in the glaring light of something like Newtown. But there is actually a connection in all of this. That connection is what prompted me down the path of “the Greater Good” to which I simply can’t devote time to as much as I’d like to.
What does “social engagement” look like? What does it mean to be a “fully engaged” community member, citizen, a deep-pockets high contributor to society?
Employee engagement hinges on up-close-and-personal work relationships; by most definitions. it’s not possible to be fully engaged without a high level of emotional connection to your work environment and those who share it with you.
Social engagement especially hinges on up-close-and-personal relationships, doesn’t it? But the environment and our lifestyles impair nurturing those relationships in the communities and neighborhoods where we live, even at home with our families.
What is the first thing the Newtown community did? They rushed together at the school, at the fire house, at the various churches. They needed to be close to each other. People need people.
What really strikes me about Newtown and other similar senseless tragedies is that someone did not see some kind of warning sign and act. But then it seems that our new social norms include staying isolated, keeping people at arms’ length, not allowing yourself to care where you don’t “need to”… not getting involved where it’s none of your business because it could be emotionally, or physically, dangerous to do so! But the result of all that…we’re a society of total strangers.
Did someone not seeing and not doing something just cost us another 26 innocent, beautiful lives?
I know the relevance to values-based leadership and engagement is being stretched here. Or is it? Engagement is built on a foundation of relationships. Relationships require an emotional connection with others, which requires a high level of open disclosure. So maybe there is a very deep connection to all of this.
How can it happen? What’s wrong with society? Was this due to a breakdown of values and norms? How could someone do this? “Normal people” cannot fathom the whys. Newtown is so overwhelming that I simply need a little gonzo, disjointed let-it-out time. I know I have a lot of good company in that one.
I saw the victims’ pictures online the next morning and read the short tribute to each-only some of them. While I wanted to remember and pray for each, I couldn’t force myself to continue. I have a picture of my four very young grand kids on my desktop, the oldest is the same age as many of the victims. I can’t put myself in that dark place, it’s beyond comprehension. I can’t imagine. How could someone…but someone did, and it’s not the first time. And probably not the last.
While norms can be reinforced through laws, policy and peers you cannot legislate values. Further, it sounds like there are mental issues involved in Newtown, which diminishes the impact of values and norms as factors. “Well normalized” people cannot do these things.
There is a good deal of grieving and there are a lot of questions being asked today. There will not be many Sunday sermons that do not address the Newtown tragedy. I’m reasonably sure that some of those sermons will put the spotlight on eroding family and social values.
I can only hope the message from the pulpit and from the politicians and activists doesn’t get cheapened into yet another platform for general politicizing about which side is more right or less wrong…senseless slayings, same-sex marriage, right-to-life, legalized pot do not belong on the same page. They need to be addressed alone.
“I’d love to change the world…but I don’t know what to do”. One tiny little pebble I can drop into this big pond is simply to connect with other people. Caring enough to invest some of my precious personal time in others…is it possible that something that simple could somehow keep someone from going over the edge?
Maybe, just maybe.
I wish this made me feel better. Not yet. Or, maybe it is better that we don’t get to the point of “feeling better” about this?