Recent headlines are littered with tragic events, and many of them hit close to home. Whether you have friends or loved ones in Florida, Texas, or Puerto Rico, or find yourself considering the time you stayed at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, these events remind us of how interconnected and interdependent our lives are with each other.
They say in life, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react. Based on some reactions in the national spotlight, I’m troubled by the dissension and politicizing of tragedy these days. This happens whether you’re white or black, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. Too frequently, we want to jump to a label like this because it’s a simpler way to categorize our outrage or simplify our pain and confusion at these complex issues and the various reactions to them.
Recent hurricanes may or may not be the result of climate change. Violent shootings, like the one in Las Vegas, may or may not be curbed by more strict gun control measures. NFL player protests may or may not be disrespectful, freedom of speech, a thoughtful protest, a slap in the face, etc.
I don’t profess to know the answers to these questions, and as the father of a young daughter, I struggle with how to respond when she asks inevitable questions. What I do know is the level of “certainty” and “expertise” conveyed by a variety of people through various media outlets on a host of these issues seems to be more related to ego, “likes”, viewers, and sensationalism than it is about accuracy and dialogue.
To find answers to some of these questions, I have to look no further than McLean County. I think of Lyn Hruska, of our local American Red Cross being deployed to help in our hurricane ravaged areas. I think of the semis full of food that our own Midwest Food Bank ships constantly to these areas. And, I think of how my church recently took up an offering that was promptly donated to District 87 and Unit 5 to buy hot lunches for students in need.
I’m proud of how these individuals and organizations have reacted to local and national circumstances and events, taking care of others and taking care of our own. That’s a trait we seem to see more of here in our local community than in other areas of the country. Instead of looking to point the finger as to why something happened or point out who is at fault, we simply roll up our sleeves and recognize that our help is needed.
At the end of the day, we recognize how we’re all connected. Human services describes well what we do. We help people, and no matter their beliefs, skin color, or political affiliation, when tragedy or need strikes, we step in to donate money, give blood, lend a hand.
Part of the reason I serve in this role with United Way is because of my desire to contribute to the greater good in our community in whatever way I can to influence and change it in a positive way. I may not have the answers for Addison when she asks the tough questions, but I’m confident that through my work, I can be a role model for her on how to react in life and how to be a part of the solution.