12 Days of Christmas- Day 6

15 Dec

I wanted to write this post last night while the feeling of yesterday’s events were still fresh in my mind, but I decided against it. I don’t believe in writing from an overly emotional place, and yesterday I had to take a step back. I needed to give myself time to process what had happened

Now I’m ready to take a breath, and type.

Earlier this week, there was a shooting at a mall in my area which left two people dead. As I’m sure all of you know, there was a horrific shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut yesterday which claimed many lives, most of which were children’s.  Also in the news yesterday, a man stabbed 22 children outside a primary school in China. After hearing about these acts of unspeakable violence, my first thoughts were, “What the fuck has happened to people?”

I cried. For the victims, for the families of the victims, for the people who will forever be haunted by the events, for everyone who lost a little faith in humanity.

I used to be very cynical and pessimistic, believing that people will screw you over when given the chance. “The world is full of opportunists” I’d say, and I meant that. I looked at everyone as though they were a suspect in a crime they had not yet committed. Innocent until proven guilty? No way. Guilty until proven innocent.

Things changed along the way. With the exception of the birth of my nephew (which humbled me in so many ways) it wasn’t one or two major events that altered my outlook. It was that I began letting stories of good in this world impact me as much as the stories of bad. I started to realize there is so much benevolence in this world, it just doesn’t get the same recognition as tragic events do. We bury our beauty in our inhumanity.

Please don’t misunderstand, we should be informed of the things happening around us. I’m not asking anyone to erase history. I’m simply trying to illustrate that we are inundated with so much negative information that it’s easy to forget how many positive things are happening in our world.

Take these news stories for example:

“Secret Santa pays off local families layaway”

“Larry DePrimo, NYPD cop, buys homeless man boots”

“Austrians bus driver finds, returns bags with $510k”

“Random acts of kindness in Saskatoon by mother and son” (this story is a great example of how small things have a huge impact)

For every one act of inhumane behavior, there are dozens of acts of service towards our fellow (wo)man. I refuse to believe that humanity is doomed because it’s not. Apathy and numbness doesn’t help, it only hurts. It hardens our hearts, and as someone who has been there, that’s the wrong place to be.

I’m not asking you to forget about these tragedies, or forgo discussing the underlying issues which caused them to occur. I’m simply asking you not to be swallowed up by the darkness in our world because there are beacons of light out there. They may be hard to see, but trust me, they’re there.

Today’s challenge is to perform your own act of kindness. Help someone with their groceries. Call up someone you haven’t talked to in a long time and tell them you’re thinking of them. Do the dishes even though it isn’t your turn. Donate $1 to your charity of choice. Buy someone a cup of coffee.

Whatever you choose to do, do it knowing that you’re putting back into the world what someone else tried to take away.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

I won’t be awarding a prize today. I didn’t feel it was right to do that on this post. Instead, I’ll be giving away two things tomorrow.

55 Responses to “12 Days of Christmas- Day 6”

  1. Human In Recovery 12/15/2012 at 10:59 am #

    Jen,
    Thank you for that perspective. Looking for and building up what is good and positive in the world is truly our only weapon and defense against that which is dark and evil. Noticing and remarking upon the good doesn’t remove, invalidate, or mitigate the pain, it merely gives us incentive to move through it.

    Be well,
    Kina

    • Jen and Tonic 12/15/2012 at 8:11 pm #

      You’re absolutely right in that it helps us navigate through the healing process. We have to do good to feel good.

  2. Just Rambling 12/15/2012 at 11:05 am #

    I like it. I don’t have anything else to add to this, except that I believe you are right. It is easy to focus on all the bad stuff. It’s just as easy to ignore the bad stuff and focus on all the good stuff, but the key is in finding balance. To know that there are good things that are worth paying attention to, and on the other we ought to know that there are people suffering because of sick human beings walking this planet. To know there are people who need compassion. Anyway, like I said, you are right. Great post!

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:31 pm #

      You’re right, we need to be aware of both. In order to fix the problem we have to see the “sickness” in others. We just can’t forget to see what’s right in those who aren’t doing horrible things.

  3. Daan van den Bergh 12/15/2012 at 11:56 am #

    It’s a total coincidence that your challenge matched my activities today. I donated all sorts of stuff to the homeless in my city today. Toys, shoes, winter jackets, plates, mugs, and all kinds of stuff for babies we don’t need anymore.

    Beautiful post, Jen. I’m featuring your blog during the holidays! In a humorous way, but it may be inappropriate to talk about it below this heart felt post.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Coincidence indeed! That’s a really nice thing you did. Those items will mean more to the recipient than you’ll probably ever know.

      And thanks for the mention :)

  4. timethief 12/15/2012 at 12:01 pm #

    The fact we are in constant touch via social media and mainstream media means we are choosing subjected to all there is both negative and positive without ceasing day in and day out. In order to remain healthy and happy I choose to focus on the positive and distance myself form the negative. That means I deliberately disconnect for hours every day and even for days at a time as remaining constantly connected just hurts too much.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:39 pm #

      I think you’re right. We are so connected that we are quite literally being bombarded our entire waking life. It becomes too much, and as much as we don’t think it impacts us, it really does. I also have chosen to disconnect for a certain amount of time each day. You have to.

  5. Soul Walker 12/15/2012 at 12:16 pm #

    You know I have been around violence a lot. It doesn’t matter what culture you are in. It doesn’t matter what weapons are available. It doesn’t matter what period of history you find yourself in. Violence is everywhere and every time. The human heart has always been the problem. Technology and education do not make hearts better… if they did Star Trek would be a reality and humans really would make progress.

    I can appreciate your looking for good things to consider in the midst of violence and tragedy. It does go unnoticed often. I’m not sure why anyone would have hope in humanity itself though. People have always been terrible to each other and we are still here.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:40 pm #

      I think you HAVE to have hope. If I let all of the news stories get to me, I don’t think I could be happy. I’d be living in fear, and would have hate in my heart. I just don’t think that’s healthy for a person.

      I think we should still use reasonable judgment and be aware of the dangers, but not let it eat us alive.

  6. sweetmother 12/15/2012 at 12:17 pm #

    i really like this post. it takes a pretty supercool human to CHOOSE to take the good over the bad when something horrific like this happens. and i SO know what you mean about not wanting to write about it just yet. that’s why i wrote about my goddermned dog today. i couldn’t take much more… xo, sm

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:42 pm #

      I imagine that there will be a lot of people who will touch on it in the upcoming weeks. We all process these things differently.

      I have to choose happiness in my life. I think we all do. Bad shit will happen to us, and it has a tight grip if we let it.

      • sweetmother 12/16/2012 at 1:08 pm #

        i’m so with you. with something like this, it’s very easy to get sucked down into the vortex of it. i refused to watch tv yesterday, just to get away from it…

  7. SocietyRed 12/15/2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Jen,
    This is the perfect post for today, when none of us can shake the feeling of sadness and anger. You suggest a great challenge that I’m sure everyone will enthusiastically accept.
    Thank you!
    Red

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:43 pm #

      I’ll admit, I’m finding it hard to shake the sadness and anger. I don’t think it’s immediate, being able to “dismiss” it like that. We have to just keep going along, and I find that putting good out in the world really helps with that.

  8. davidhardingblogs 12/15/2012 at 12:30 pm #

    You’re right – what else can we do before we get sucke down the plug hole (besides start giving billions to help mental health, of course.)
    Viva good people and nice things!

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:43 pm #

      You’re absolutely right about needing to put money into the mental health community. We are seriously lacking in that here in the US. We also have an incredibly violent and volatile culture. Mix those two things, and well, it’s no wonder we have incidents like this.

  9. Fern DeVilliers 12/15/2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I even linked to your post “Live Long And Prosper” in writing my own thoughts on this issue.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed your thoughts on it as well. It’s very interesting to hear what people in other parts of the world think about these things.

  10. Carrie Rubin 12/15/2012 at 12:44 pm #

    I agree–there are so many acts of good out there that don’t get as much attention as the acts of evil. It helps to remember these, and to know that each of us can make people’s lives better with the smallest of acts. Lovely post.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:45 pm #

      We really can make people’s lives better. Everyone always feels like they are one drop in the bucket, but sometimes that one drop is the tipping point for a person.

  11. iRuniBreathe 12/15/2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Good job on this one, Jen. I find that the negative gets so sensationalized that people are inundated by social media and the drama of things. It’s not to in any way lessen the horrific reality of what has happened, but it is so true that we can choose to focus on the good as well. I find my daily Attitude of Gratitude list helps me with that. It’s the little things that can mean so much, and those are the same things we easily disregard in our busy day.
    Happy Day 6 to you.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:46 pm #

      YES! I think your daily Attitude of Gratitude is a great example of how choosing to focus on the good can breed great things for us. It really is the little things that mean so much, and they often get overshadowed by the overwhelming negativity in “isolated” incidents.

      • iRuniBreathe 12/16/2012 at 7:01 pm #

        Thanks Jen. And on that note, it reminds me that it’s time to reflect on my day and update my daily little things to appreciate.

  12. The Bumble Files 12/15/2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Thanks, Jen. I need some light in my world today. I accept your challenge. I’ve been upset, saddened and angry by this, and am tempted to write about it but almost don’t know where to begin. I just want things to change. Your challenge is a thoughtful one.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:47 pm #

      I think a lot of people are where you are at. How do you cope with something so horrible? I’ve been hearing stories about teachers who quite literally saved their children’s lives in the classrooms. Always light with dark. It doesn’t make it okay, but it gives us a place to build upon.

  13. daniheart21 12/15/2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Standing and applauding. It’s easy to lose perspective because we ARE bombarded with the bad. Let’s face it.. tragedy sells newspapers.. gets blog hits. Thanks for a little sunshine on an otherwise rainy day Ms. Sharp. You rock! My heart goes out to anyone who experiences tragedy. I have not offered words for what has happened because there are no words that would suffice in my opinion. :(

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:48 pm #

      I am like you in that I wanted to offer something, a solution. I wanted to talk about guns and mental health, but I’m not qualified, and I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling. I chose to go my own path with this one, and use a philosophy I use in my life. I hope you try and do the same at some point :)

  14. vyvacious 12/15/2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I love this post. I think that it’s pretty common for people to get in the rut of thinking that everyone is going to screw them over. I still fall back into that thought process every now and then. But as many have commented before me, I respect your ability to step back and look at what’s good in the world. Let’s bring forth the good things happening and let that have a huge snowball effect. The problem I see with constantly focus on all the negative, horrific things that have been happening is that we spread that negativity and it eats most of us from the inside out. That’s not to say that I don’t quietly mourn each and every life that was lost. That’s not to say that I didn’t cry yesterday while silently sending my very best wishes to each family that lost someone they loved whether it be from the shooting, the stabbing, or just the everyday occurrence of death.

    I truly hope that people take your challenge to heart and that they do something small just to put a smile on someone’s face. Let’s hope that smile snowballs into something amazing. I know a warm smile and helping hand from someone has turned my day around and I strive to do the same each and every day.

    Today, I volunteered at Joanie’s Purse Project that would give struggling women a new purse, scarf, and a variety of supplies to help them survive and hopefully get back out into the working world. It’s really the small things that make me happy. People often ask how I have the time to do everything in my life since my schedule is so busy. They ask how the hell I can volunteer when I barely have time to sleep. I do it because it breathes new life into me. I commend you for your efforts, Jen. Thank you for this post.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:50 pm #

      I loved that you said a little prayer. I do too sometimes even though I’m not a religious person. “Standing together” doesn’t mean we need to physically be next to the person, it just means solidarity.

      Wow, that organization you volunteered for sounds wonderful! Sounds a bit liked Dressed for Success which I volunteered with for a few years. Good on you :)

      • vyvacious 12/17/2012 at 1:35 pm #

        I’m not a religious person either but I just wholeheartedly believe doing good and helping others. That’s very important to me and sometimes I feel like religions don’t stress that part enough and instead want to focus on little nitpicks. Let’s just all love one another and try to weather through all this hate together.

        Thank you! The group I’m a part of likes to volunteer for many different events so that we can help a range of people but I definitely had a blast helping out Joanie’s Purse Project :) Thanks!

  15. Adam S 12/15/2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Jen,
    You’re absolutely right. The media really portrays a skewed view of the world. I haven’t given up hope, but our obsession with negativity has to stop. Paying it forward is a good place to start.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:50 pm #

      You’re right, OUR obsession with negativity has to stop. I used to read gossip magazines until I realized I was perpetuating the hate mongering of celebrities and other public figures.

  16. Bill Friday 12/15/2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Oh, Ms. Tonic…

    How you have changed my outlook in so many ways since you hogtied me and forced me to listen to, err… um… I mean, since your words began to speak to my heart.

    You are blunt and brutal honesty… with a squishy, heart-shaped center. Perfect for navigating the harsh realities, and tender truths, of a world that seems to have lost its way. That, and you are the most fucking hilarious person I have ever known. And also, your words…

    “We bury our beauty in our inhumanity.”

    …nailed it like nothing else.

    Read you tomorrow.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:53 pm #

      I think we spoke to each other. You also showed me a renewed perspective on others. Thank goodness one of us is mature ;)

      And hey, I’m not the only one with a squishy center. I could tell a few tales of a bearded guy I know…

  17. Sometimes that’s all people need – Knowing someone (anyone) cares. Lovely thought, Jen.

  18. twindaddy 12/15/2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Jen, this is a wonderful post. Thank you.

  19. El Guapo 12/15/2012 at 4:40 pm #

    Hopefully, everyone will take and meet your challenge every single day.

    Knowing there are good people like you makes bearing some of the rest a little easier.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:54 pm #

      I’ve found so many good people here on WordPress. It has really given me a new appreciation of how not all is lost in our world.

  20. Emily @ The Waiting 12/15/2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Amen, lady. There is so much good in the world; it just doesn’t make headlines the way tragedies do. To be completely honest, I’m really struggling with that truth today. I’m having a hard time believing that there is still goodness left, but I’m holding tight because I know in my heart that it does. This world is inherently beautiful and I don’t believe that evil can cancel out that beauty, no matter how ugly and disgusting it is.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:55 pm #

      It’s okay to struggle, I think that’s perfectly normal. To be honest, I’m still struggling with it too. How could someone do this? Why would someone do this? Who is the next person to think this is okay? These are all questions I’ve asked myself since I heard about the shooting.

      The world is inherently beautiful, and I think we can work to take that back.

  21. Cathy Ulrich 12/15/2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Jen,
    I just want to say that I agree with you on every single point of this post. Thank you and hugs,
    Cathy

  22. artsifrtsy 12/15/2012 at 8:05 pm #

    I like this post a lot – with all the news it’s hard to look for the diamonds in life, but they’re out there.

    • Jen and Tonic 12/16/2012 at 12:58 pm #

      They are tough, but we still have the ability to find them. That’s what I’m holding on to for now.

  23. vanessa 12/16/2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I’ve been borderline obsessed with news updates re: this horrific tragedy…and have become so cynical and angry. It’s equally as hard at this point, to think there is “mostly” good out there – when it’s really everywhere. Right when you’re smack in the middle of a certain perspective, it’s nice to have someone talk you out of it, positively. Thanks for that. Great read ;)

    • Jen and Tonic 12/17/2012 at 3:43 pm #

      I think so many people have been borderline obsessed with it. It’s hard not to be, it’s streaming everywhere. I think you have to put yourself on a “news diet” and shut everything off. It’s what I’ve done, and it has given me time to process it without being in the whirlwind.

  24. writerwendyreid 12/16/2012 at 4:03 pm #

    We so rarely hear about the good stuff it’s no wonder that we tend to think that the world is full of terrible people. I think we should all actively search out stories on random acts of kindness and them share them with others. :-)

    • Jen and Tonic 12/17/2012 at 3:42 pm #

      You’re right! We should *actively* seek out the good stories.

  25. SummerSolsticeGirl 12/17/2012 at 1:48 am #

    Word!

  26. GiggsMcGill Jill 12/18/2012 at 6:02 pm #

    I love the ‘good people’ links. Really heart warming stuff!

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