New Train For Christmas

A couple years ago, we bought a “Toy Story Train” Duplo set online for our 2 year old boy for Christmas. When it arrived, it turned out that it was a lego set, not a duplo set. Oh well. We’d just keep it in the closet for a few years until he was old enough to play with legos, then give it to him then. Well, he’s not quite old enough, losing interest in trains and Toy Story, and the kids found the set in the closet some time ago. So while we were all sick during this Christmas break, we pulled it out and put it together (we=Mom and I, although the kids had a lot of fun playing with the characters).

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It was actually really nice to build something with legos again–been a long time since I’ve done that.

In Memory of the Empty Stocking

I’ve been thinking and trying to work on something for this for quite some time. As usual, I’ve been over-thinking it and trying to come up with the perfect words of consolation, comfort and call to action, etc.

What I want to do is express my sorrow over the tragedy in Newtown, and explain that I believe the right way to show our consolation and grief is for us to take steps to see that such a thing does not happen again.

Such an idea is by no means a new one. President Obama said essentially the same thing, that we needed to work on this without regard for the politics involved.

I believe that we need to remember that we are all part of one nation, and as such, we all have responsibility in it.  The strength and character of the nation is defined by the strength of it’s people, homes, and communities.

We are responsible for this nation. Us. Not just Congress, not just the President. Not the major corporations or the media.

We are responsible for what does and does not happen in this nation. We. All of us. We are responsible for the good and the bad. It is up to us to shape our nation, and in fact, we do that whether we do so consciously or not. Our inaction or apathy will shape the nation one way or another.

Yes, we are busy. Yes, we do have lives to live, mouths to feed, children to take care of, church to attend, duties to fulfill. But I think it is important for us to not forget one of those duties. To be a part in the shaping of not just our homes (as important as that is), but also our Nation. Our States. Our communities.

To me, this is the best way to memorialize the lives that were lost in Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, and an increasing number of others.

After the tragedy occurred, the words that brought the most comfort to me were from the Christmas song “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” This poem was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil war. His wife had recently died, and his son was badly wounded:

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
I believe that. I believe it with all my heart.

I do not believe that belief alone is enough. My religion teaches that belief is to be coupled with action and effort. Do you want “peace on earth, goodwill to men?” Then what are you doing to bring that about?

I am reminded of the scene from the movie Hotel Rwanda, where the camera man, after filming the horrible tragedies that are occurring, says something to the effect of, “People will see this on their TV’s, say ‘Oh, that’s horrible’ and then go back to their dinner.”
Can we not just go back to our dinner?
My intention is to encourage us to feel a greater sense of community and responsibility for that community. There are so many problems, but there are so many ways that we can help. Your actions matter. Your vote does count. Your voice does make a difference.

As we do so, of course there will be people who disagree with you, your point of view, and the ways in which you are contributing. Talk, share, discuss, encourage, be respectful. Don’t fight, argue, hate, or be sarcastic.

This Christmas, there will be many empty stockings, and not just in Newtown. These words are in memory of those empty stockings, and with a firmer conviction to add my voice and my efforts in healing and shaping this wonderful nation that I am a part of.