A few weeks ago the message of my column was a minor analogy about what we miss when we don't know our neighbors. In the wake of the recent tragedy I feel more strongly than ever about that message. In my grieving for two friends that lost their son I formulated a New Year's resolution that I feel might address what we all could do to help so that this doesn't happen again. Here it is:
The Pledge of 28 (A New Year's Resolution)
To honor the memories of the people who perished in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy of 11/14/12, starting today I pledge to meet 28 new people in my community. They will be:
- Neighbors who I see but never talk to.
- Co-workers I pass everyday in the hall, but never say more than “Hi.”
- Strangers at parks and community gatherings
- Anyone else who may share my path on any day
The goal is simple. I want to get to know the people in and around the “communities” in which I circulate (neighborhood, work, community at large) and I want them to know who I am. If I can learn something about who they are and what they do, maybe I can be enriched by their experience. If I can learn something about their challenges, maybe I can be a connection to the solution.
I promise to listen more than I speak, and if we can agree, to share contact information with the possibility of further discussion. I promise not to self-promote, or sell, unless prompted, nor will I use this time to press any religious or political agenda.
The information we share will be considered to be privileged, unless I consider them to be a danger to either and/or both of us — then I will do what any responsible citizen should.
My hope is that if we can become closer as a society, we can become catalysts for solution, thus lessening the opportunity for those who feel extremely disconnected to act on those feelings. This is the reason all 28 casualties are memorialized by this pledge.
"Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments." -Abraham Joshua Heschel
Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.