continued On March 15, 2010, we lost a lovely woman. No matter what caused her death, we have an obligation to learn the lesson Pat Mouton taught us that night — these horrific events happen, they happen in every community, whether by accident or illness or malice. People live and die every day and they do it best when they do it with compassion.
We shouldn’t expect our children to treat others with dignity at school when adults fight and grovel and demonize to score points. We shouldn’t expect that they will learn the fierce pain they inflict through their popularity contests and cliques when adults do the very same thing. Each one of us has an obligation to teach our children to expand their social worlds, to treat others not with tolerance but with compassion and respect and even love. None of us will ever get this absolutely right, but the attempt is so powerful.
On March 14, 2013, just a few short nights ago, we lost another mom — Lori Bresnahan. We have evidence that in our midst there is growing hate and rage along with beauty and love and compassion. We watch our families bury their children with greater frequency. Our suburbs, designed to be an escape from chaos, have become more dangerous than we ever could have imagined.
Random acts of violent rage will never be stopped by random acts of kindness. But our lives will be richer if we act with purposeful kindness and compassion, and if we remember as we take in all of the bounty of our beautiful lives, that others feel pain every day.
We have so many gifts here if we only recognize that we do. If we could only feel rich enough to share those gifts, we can all be artists.
Donna Marsh-O’Connor is a former member of the Liverpool Central School District Board of Education. She teaches creative writing at Syracuse University.