Monday, January 14, 2013

26 Random Acts of Kindness

January 14, 2013

Today marks the one month anniversary of the tragic event of the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre, December 14, 2012.  The tragedy was devastating to our country.  Whether you knew someone personally or not, it hit us all hard.  I have never cried so much for people I didn’t know than I did for those helpless victims.  No one can or will ever be able to make any sense out of what happened.

Just as religion and politics have always been the source of controversial and oftentimes, heated conversations, so has the protection of our communities as it relates to gun control. I don’t choose to start a heated discussion over gun control, because this was not merely an assault because there was a gun readily available.  Violence isn’t a one-step solution any more than it is a one-source problem.  There are mental health issues, parental responsibility/accountability issues, gun safety issues, and so on.  None of these are easy issues to address, nor are there any quick fixes. 

The issue of gun control?  I am going to leave that one alone.  I have my own opinion, and I choose to keep that to myself.

As far as the mental health component is concerned?  I can tell you a few things I learned after having worked in the mental health industry for many years:  MANY people do not get the mental health care they should either because they can’t or they won’t.  Many, who ARE diagnosed, refuse to take the medication to control the disease.  Many can’t AFFORD to take medication because they lack insurance.   

So what about parental responsibility and accountability?  I am STILL scratching my head, trying to figure out why the mother of the shooter kept weapons and ammunition in her home, knowing she had a family member with a diagnosed, documented mental disorder. 

I am not going to try to solve all the problems of the world.  I am going to stay in my own vicinity and do what I can in my own way, and that is to start with what I consider to be one of the roots of the problem:  Raising children that are kind and respectful of others.  I grew up in a medical family, and my college degree is in public and community health education.  I was raised and educated to believe largely in preventative measures to avoid potential issues and problems.  You can’t put a Band-Aid on a cancerous tumor and expect it to get well.  You are better off trying to prevent the disease with what we know to be cancer prevention behaviors like eating right, not smoking, etc. The problem with violence needs to be dealt with pro-actively by taking preventative measures. 

Now don’t get me wrong:  I am not saying this will totally solve the problem of violence in our society.  I am merely stating that it is my own personal way of contributing to the solution.  I am but one person, but I would rather not sit around and complain about who is not doing what, or who is to blame for everything that is wrong with the world.  I would rather use that energy doing something positive and constructive to add a bit of awesome to someone’s day---A bit of awesome that may impact them enough to keep in their memory bank for a lifetime, as was the case in several of the examples I gave that I personally experienced.

So 26 Random Acts of Kindness later, and I am hooked.  I had the most peaceful, relaxing and laid back Christmas I have had in a long time, and I attribute it to the fact that my focus was different this year.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do to make someone’s day.  I had an eagle eye out to catch other’s “doing good” so I could share those examples.  I can’t walk past a grocery cart in the parking lot without taking it to the front of the store.  I can’t walk past a display of flowers without the urge to buy some for someone.  I can’t let one of my clients move in to their new home without taking them dinner on moving day.  I can’t see a homeless person without extending a helping hand.  My heart is in a different place.  I had a tough year this past year, and spent a lot of time concerned about myself and all the issues and problems I had to deal with and/or figure out.  What I now realize is how trivial those things are in comparison to the loss of so many beloved lives. 

After the murders in Newtown, I decided to dedicate 26 days of kindness to honor each life lost, in search of the good in humankind.  Whether it be a random act I personally did for someone else, one that was performed by one of my kids, husband or other family member, one that had been done to me, or one that was suggested by another:  I decided to focus on being the positive change that I wanted to see.  (Thanks, Gandhi for the great advice!)   The very day I took my mind off myself, and starting to focus on everyone else, everything changed.  I don’t know if the things that bothered me before went away, or if I just quit worrying about what I couldn’t change or control.  As soon as I put my focus in the right place, everything else seemed to take care of itself.  I can’t control the economy.  I can’t control gas prices.  I can’t control whether or not my clients are able to get a mortgage or not.  I can’t control maniacs with guns.  What I can control is my attitude, how I treat others, and the example I set.

I started posting 26 Random Acts of Kindness as a tribute to the children and professionals that lost their lives in the senseless massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, and I plan to do so again starting on December 14, 2013.  I would love for you to send me examples of things you have done, things that have been done to you, or acts you have witnessed.  And with your permission, share them as suggestions for the 2013 Random Acts of Kindness. 

If you haven’t seen the posts, rather than do a re-cap on this blog, you can find them on the daily posts on either of my Facebook pages over the last month: or

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us realize how lucky we are.  Let’s learn from these sweet babies and the teachers that tried to protect them, and never take a single day for granted.  

Janie Pugh

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