Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Random....

For the past several days, I have struggled with the horrible events of last Friday, December 14, 2012.  A shooter entered an elementary school and shot 6 teachers and 20 first graders.   As a parent and grandparent, as a professional, and as someone who hates guns, this one has been hard for me.  The images, indelibly imprinted in my psyche, are terrifying and sad.  
The media has conjectured extensively about the increased possibility of gun control legislation, as well as the flaws and possibilities of the mental health system.  They have also  revealed a new debate as to whether principals and teachers should be armed.   The shooter's mother, also a victim, has been portrayed in sensational ways (survivalist, gun maven, troubled) and a heroine (mother of a son with many challenging behaviors, unable to access needed services).   There is much conflict in each of these discussions.  Now, our society can add epidemic violence to some of our other woes:  the looming fiscal cliff, wars abroad, and  health care reform    Perhaps it is good that it this new "worry" has moved up on the list that politicians, neighbors, and various advocacy groups can argue about.   The combination of the realities of the events of last Friday and the debate that has followed has dampened my holiday spirit, and that of many others around me.  

And then this morning, my wife shared something with me.   Former NBC Today Show host Ann Curry has started a website/twitter feed:  Inspired to Act: #26 Acts of Kindness:  

Curry's message is asking others to join her in committing to 26 random acts of kindness to honor the Newtown children and adults who were killed.  I read down the page, which provides some opportunity to respond and hundreds of people have indicated what they have done, little things and big things, to memorialize the victims and to move forward.   To be honest, reading these "tweets" humbled me.  While I have been focusing on the hopeless sadness of the situation, thousands of others have been doing good things, big and little.   There are notes of Christmas miracles, Jewish mitzvahs, generous donations, letters of apology, and thank you notes to first responders.

It is right to be sad and angry over such "random" violence.  It is not likely that 26 acts of kindness by many will stop the next crazy killing spree.  Our legislators, scientists, the education system, and the health system will have to struggle with this epidemic for a long time.   In the meantime, doing something positive and kind has the potential to communicate what is healthy and hopeful during this most difficult period.  So, I am starting my holiday list late this year.  This year, my holiday to do list focuses on 26 random acts .I want to respond to Ann Curry's little message.  My response won't change the world, it won't change the grief of the sorrowful survivors in Newtown, and it certainly won't change the likelihood that there will be another random killing in the future.  My reason for doing it is selfish.  It will change me, lift my spirits, and might help someone that I work with or someone in my family or someone who needs a little lift.

I hope that this holiday that everyone in the Institute community and your families, have a safe, healthy, happy and wonderful break.  I hope that every one of our students knows that we care about them and their success and that we look forward to seeing them in January.  I hope that every faculty member and staff member at the IHP knows that what we do changes the face and the future of health care-one student at a time.   I also invite everyone to read the "Inspired to Act" site and then join in with 26 big or little random acts.  Do it for yourself.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday! Peace.

PS-Feel free to list some of your random acts on the blog response below!  Think of the effect!  26 random acts x 1200 students+ (200 faculty and staff) =36,400.  That's big!


  1. Thank you Alex. I hope you count this moving blog post as one of your 26 "acts of kindness". I am grateful that you have reminded us to stand up and do more for others, and to count our blessings during this holiday season.

    Linda Evans

  2. A few days ago I decided to try to engage in some random acts of kindness and I can say, without a doubt, that they have had a positive impact on me, my emotional state, and the individuals I encountered. I have also started a "gratitude" journal, where I record only the positive, beautiful things in my life and all of the things that I often forget to appreciate. I wanted to share some of the random acts of kindness I have engaged in so far: putting money in someone's expired meter, giving an elderly woman a ride to the library as she was carrying many heavy books, giving some of the food in my cupboard, that I know I won't eat anyway, to the homeless people I walk by each day, donating money at Shaws to a meal for a family over the holidays, giving my leftovers from my dinner date to a homeless man on my way home, leaving quarters in the laundry machine with a note that days "Happy Holidays", being the bigger person and apologizing to a family member, writing a letter to a best friend of mine telling her how amazing she is (something that should be done much more often), and finally, smiling at every person I make eye contact with each day because sometimes it is the little things that matter most.

  3. A wonderful country song written by Tony Arata and Wayne Tester, and recorded by Garth Brooks, speaks to Alex's message.


    One hand reaches out
    And pulls a lost soul from harm
    While a thousand more go unspoken for
    They say what good have you done
    By saving just this one
    It's like whispering a prayer
    In the fury of a storm

    And I hear them saying you'll never change things
    And no matter what you do it's still the same thing
    But it's not the world that I am changing
    I do this so this world will know
    That it will not change me

    This heartstill believes
    That love and mercy still exist
    While all the hatreds rage and so many say
    That love is all but pointless in madness such as this
    It's like trying to stop a fire
    With the moisture from a kiss

    As long as one heart still holds on
    Then hope is never really gone

    I hear them saying you'll never change things
    And no matter what you do it's still the same thing
    But it's not the world that I am changing
    I do this so this world we know
    Never changes me

    What I do is so
    This world will know
    That it will not change me