Living Wright: Amid tragedy, we can still celebrate compassion, love
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
12/18/12 at 5:24 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's BlogOriginal Print Headline: In times of tragedy, we can still love
After 9/11, it was really difficult to write a column, especially about fashion.
Much as I loved my former beat, what with the awesome store owners, sales associates and cosmetic queens, it all seemed a bit trivial in the wake of such catastrophe. But life had to go on, everyone from President Bush to local business owners said - if not out of basic economic necessity but pure, clenched-fist defiance.
More than 11 years later, despite other horrors we've seen in the news - tsunamis and hurricanes, mass murders and teen suicides - what happened in Newtown, Conn., last Friday hit me harder than anything since the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
Mostly, it's because the majority of victims were 6 or 7 years old - innocent.
Inconceivably awful any time of year, what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary seems particularly more heinous at Christmas - which, in a way, feels a bit guilty to celebrate with its usual tinsel-strewn trappings.
So how in the world do I write a column this close to Christmas - one that speaks of the inherent joy of the season when, right now, it feels free of it?
Were I forced to glean anything - not positive, per se, but something other than dark and evil - from what happened, it would be this: Whether we're about to put up a Christmas tree or stow away a menorah after Hanukkah - no matter our faith or that of our neighbors next door or six states away - we are all part of a community that is best when it's calm and compassionate.
'Compassion and love'
Tragedy can create an emotional juggling act, even for those of us watching along with the rest of the world from outside the fishbowl - especially, it seems, via Facebook and Twitter.
Social media is becoming increasingly more present in news coverage, and such was definitely the case concerning Newtown. Likewise, perhaps even more than the recent presidential elections, social media proved frenzied fields for grieving, venting, even arguing.
Many posted their disbelief at such a tragedy, offering up prayers.
Others decried the lack of prayer in school. Others blamed God.
Some typed "gun control" in posts, which elicited stern comments on both sides of the issue.
"Liberal" and "conservative" were used like expletives in status updates.
And this was all before noon Friday, when at least one person had created a Facebook page suggesting that Ryan Lanza "rot in hell." Of course, we found out later that day the shooter wasn't Ryan but his brother, Adam.
It's human nature in the face of incomprehensible acts against innocents to go numb or react violently, especially immediately following such acts.
But the Pollyanna in me hopes those alleged better angels of our nature show their gracious faces and beam brighter than ever this season - and remind us, overly simple as this may have seemed early last Friday before all this happened, that we're all alike because we're human. Alike because we all hurt.
Most importantly, we're all capable of compassion and love - which, after all, is the true essence of Christmas, and that's what we need to celebrate.