On December 14th, after hearing about the shootings of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., I drove home from work early – about as far away from Connecticut as you can be in this country – to pick up my 3-year-old daughter at her daycare. As she came running toward me, I burst into tears right there in the lobby and cried hard as I carried her out.
“Don’t worry,” said the ladies at the front desk. “It’s been happening all day.”
At my house, it’s been happening every day since. I relish every tantrum just like a hug. For now, I’ve given up on putting her back in her own bed when she crawls into mine in the middle of the night, thankful for the unbelievable luxury of cuddling my child when the parents of 20 other children have lost theirs.
It is the right and responsible thing for our nation to take swift action in trying to find ways to circumvent horrible, senseless tragedies like the ones in Newtown, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and the staggering number of other acts of violence in our country. But while we debate policy in the nation, I’m sure many people feel as I do – helpless.
For those of us who simply don’t know what to do, a movement is afoot, started by one tweet from NBC’s Ann Curry: “What if? Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for every one of those children killed in Newtown.”
And Curry’s 1.3 million followers committed, suggesting that the number be increased to 26, to honor teachers and students. And so the #26Acts hashtag was born. As she writes in an article on the NBC news site, “What’s really remarkable to me is how many people responded. They are the ones who carried the ball. They are the ones who chose what to do. People would tweet back, ‘I’ve done two!’ ‘I bought coffee for a guy in line!’ ‘I bought toys for homeless children!’ or ’24 more to go’ – whatever number they were trying to reach.”
As Curry says, it doesn’t matter what you do or how much money you spend, or even if you report back. “I know the truth,” she writes. “If you do good, you feel good. It’s the most selfish thing you can do. Right now, this country wants to heal. I think the only thing comforting in the face of a tragedy like this is to do something good with it if you can. Be a part of that wave.”
A number of memorials, a national sympathy card, funds for counseling and more have sprung up in response to the tragic events of December 14th. There’s a good list of them on the USA Today website, and it only takes a small act to make a difference. As Curry tweeted, “I’m in. RT if you’re in.”