Sometimes news is hell.
I don’t use the word lightly. Yes, at the best of times, the daily news can seem to hold enough misery, anger and grief for anyone. Major wars. Minor cruelties. Kardashian news. We know it, we brace for it, we sigh as it goes by.
But some weeks are worse. This one, for instance.
If you’re among my Longmont readers, you know what I mean. The murder-suicide, with a man suspected of killing one parent with a knife, nearly killing the other and then taking his own life. The stabbing attack on a seven-months pregnant woman, where the child-to-be was physically removed. Each hard on the heels of the other, gruesome and horrific.
If there’s anyone who simply turned their computer off on Wednesday and refused to read any more Internet news, I can’t say I blame them.
Some scenes hit you in the heart and rip your soul open to scream. They’re the calls that every cop and paramedic hates to get, that every reporter hates to write, that every reader hates to bear witness to. They’re the ones that your brain refuses to let go of, asking the heavens “How is something like this allowed to exist?”
It doesn’t matter if the audience is the world or the folks inside city limits. The audience is you. And it’s too much to hold.
I don’t have a magic word to make it go away. I’m not sure I could be trusted with one if I did. To feel another’s pain is to be human; if I banish that pain, am I sending my humanity away with it?
But oh, the temptation.
So what do we do?
If there’s any answer at all, I think it has to be “What we can.”
Grief like this doesn’t just shock, it isolates. It makes you feel alone and helpless in an overwhelming world. Other hurts seem minor compared to that big boulder that refuses to move.
That is when we most need each other.
This community has a powerful heart. It showed in full force during and after the 2013 flood, when no sort of help was off limits. People cleaned their neighbors’ homes, housed their neighbors’ families, sometimes saved their neighbors’ lives.
It’s harder with something like this. I know. There’s a less visible enemy to fight, a less obvious way to help. But the gist remains the same.
Be there when someone in pain needs a kind heart and a listening ear.
Be there when they don’t dare talk but just need someone nearby.
Be there when you see a friend or a neighbor or a stranger who seems to need a hand.
Not as a snoop. Not as a looky-lou or an intrusive pest. But as the brother or sister we all need to be to each other.
Most of us may never know any of the people who were at the heart of this. (Those who do, bless and keep you all.) But we all know someone. It can start with something as simple as a word of kindness to a police officer or EMT, a reminder that they’re remembered and appreciated. It can grow as big as you want it to.
If we all care for one of us, we all care for all of us.
Good news happens, too. But it’s rarely as easy as looking. We have to find it, to make it, to create it ourselves. We have to be it. And that can be a frightening prospect.
But not half as frightening as having to stand alone.
News can be hell. Undeniable. True.
But together, maybe we can be heaven.