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From Violence to VirtuesDecember 21, 2012
"And a little child shall lead them." This phrase echoed over and over in my mind during the sleepless night after 20 young souls lost their lives along with six adults who were caring for them. How, I wondered, shall we navigate the waves of grief that are just beginning? How does a nation, a world, mourn our little ones and our youth, who are dying from acts of violence every day in U.S. inner cities and war-torn countries throughout the world?
This is a pivotal moment, a potential tipping point, an awakening to our responsibility to transform violence with virtues. Throughout the United States and the world, children and adults are rising up to commit acts of kindness in memory of Grace and Noah and the others. One blogger, the wife of a Connecticut Rabbi, wrote:
"Noah loved rainbows", his mother is telling someone. Rainbows! the sign of G-d's promise never, ever to bring a flood on the whole world again. A symbol of healing, promise, and optimism…
Late in the afternoon it hit me: We need a Flood! Not, G-d forbid, a destructive flood - we've had more than enough of that. What we need is a good flood - a flood of kindness, of caring, of compassion, of goodness, of warmth, of benevolence, of support, of reaching out. There are, thank G-d, enough of us on this planet to make sure that not one human being ever feels lost. We need a Flood of connections. Not just the trickles that come from time to time, but everywhere, all the time. We need to be at least as aware of the ecology of human behavior as we are of the ecology of the physical resources of the planet. It has to penetrate all aspects of our world - the worlds of business, the media, education, culture, science, the arts, medicine - we need a flood, a good flood. Every single one of us has to know that we can make a difference, and we need to put serious thought to how we can best do that. "Noah's Flood" could take on a whole new meaning.
NBC's Ann Curry started a tsunami of kindness that went viral on social media simply by asking, "What if? Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for every one of those children killed in Newtown" (NBC's Ann Curry took to social media).
Schools across America and indeed the world, including Virtues Project schools, are finding multiple ways to replace hatred with love and generosity. Teddy bears sent to surviving siblings, gifts of new bikes to children whose parents cannot afford them, cold weather clothing dropped off at homeless shelters. Individual children and their families finding ways to do 26 little acts of kindness each day. Some are even including the killer and his mother in a total of 28. (Students honor victims through acts of kindness)
This is the day when the world as we know it, according to ancient Mayan prophecies, is at an end. May it be truly so. May we all in a collective act of will, give up anger for justice, and old resentments for forgiveness, may we create a new world of peace and justice.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
The Virtues Project is made up of people of all ages and cultures, in more than 100 countries. We are committed to sharing our tools for transformation as never before, by bringing to light the power of kindness and all the other virtues. It is time to bring transformation and spiritual growth into all aspects of mental health care, to help our communities, including Newtown, to heal. To face the future by becoming cities of compassion and families of caring. Let us hold our idealism close and make the ideal real in everyday actions of kindness and a lifelong commitment to transform violence with a flood of virtues.