Valentine’s Day. Eighteen instances of shootings on school properties in the first 45 days of 2018has probably sunk us all in the US today. And we all feel desperate for solutions, for answers to why this is happening so epidemically in our country. Several years ago I was onstage with a father of a young boy killed in the Sandyhook shooting. No matter where the teenage and adult audience and those of us about to speak sat on our political affiliations, we shed tears. Talk about the needless death of a six-year-old, and empathy overwhelms a place.
A dear friend at a recent conference for writers heard a panel of agents saying that a quality missing enormously in the books submitted this past year was love. There were books on anger on revenge, on sorrow, on hopelessness, but few on love.
A touching song in the musical Oliver is “Where is Love.” People feel it’s an angry time, a time to pop off at will. “Pugilistic,” commentators say, which is a fun word, but an ugly one, too.
A person told me recently that he’d accused someone of being an “ablest.” Now that was a surprisingly new label for me, who would qualify as someone being discriminated against in that terminology. I found myself thinking (ah, and not saying), “why would you feel you had to speak out and enlighten the person in that manner?” I think it’s okay to question someone if you feel he’s being unfair or prejudiced, but isn’t there a more productive way to do it?
So how do we find the love in these days of negativity and upheaval, where people think that there’s no human-made climate change, but there are usable nuclear weapons, where people can get their hands on AR15s, where on a mini scale people are bullied or subjected to put-downs? Spouses, kids, grandkids, books, music, coffee?
I find it also helps to establish some answer to a huge mystery for me—why am I here? Part of the answer for me came from an elderly priest who helped with my sister’s renewal of wedding vows. “Just do the small good you can in your circle.”
And finding people who are motivated to improve the world in some small ways for future generations—fuels and inspires me, and, on days like today, gives the love.