Its been a week now. Between the Christina Grimmie shooting, the massacre at Pulse in Orlando, the tragic gator attack at Disney's Grand Floridian resort, the drownings that are popping up in local news stations everywhere, the babies lost in hot cars... our hearts are breaking and sometimes it feels like more than we can bear. We are not over it and we don't know when we will be.
There's a trending hashtag right now that compels people to break their silence: say anything, but #DontSayNothing. We follow the stories on the news and while we shiver at how real and personal it feels to us, many of us also struggle to know what to say, think, or do with such tremendous suffering around us. Comments sections everywhere have brought out the best and the worst in people; however, during times of tragedy and collective grief like this one, we gravitate towards stories of hope, stories of people rallying around each other in support and lifting each other up. We look for the helpers, as Fred Rogers would say.
The breaking of our silence must be accompanied with action, and when the news coverage begins to fade, it is our responsibility as neighbors to continue to reach out.
We don't have to wait for tragedy to strike to reach out, but rather we must remain vigilant to the needs of those around us. Tragedies like these are a call to pull our heads out of the sand and pay attention to our neighbors, to bear one another's burdens on a daily basis. It is not someone else's problem. It is our problem. We're all in this together.
Reach out today. Step away from the screen and step in to someone's grief and loneliness. Listen. Hold space. Hold a hand.
If you don't know what to say, don't worry. Ask, "How can I be a neighbor to you right now?"
When you see someone and ask the oh-so-Southern question of "How are you?" make sure that person knows that you mean it. In fact, let's make it a point to always ask that question out of sincerity and a willingness to listen.
In our blame and shame culture, be a voice of compassion and understanding. If you see a mom struggling, help her. Bear her burden with her, even for things as simple as helping load groceries or offering words of encouragement instead of scorn and self-righteousness. When someone shares a deep struggle with you, give them the gift of believing them.
When we see the lonely ones, the new-to-town-ones, the ones with no village, WE must be the ones to step in. WE must be the ones to open our homes and our lives. A cup of coffee and simple hospitality costs us little but bears much fruit.
Reaching out involves an investment, but the return is one that creates a culture of support, a culture where we feel nurtured and loved. Your investment of time and love is not too small. We've committed to #DontSayNothing, but now it is time to #SaySomethingNow. All of us.