No, this is not a blog about innovation. I would like to share an idea. If it resonates, please pass this along.
Like nearly everyone I’m working through complex emotions related to yesterday’s events in Newtown, Connecticut. The sad truth for me is that I’m not shocked. This kind of event has become normal. Death by gunfire is an everyday thing in America. As an American I am simply ashamed.
My mind is flooded with memories of countless assassinations and other insane killings of my lifetime. JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Kent State, John Lennon, Columbine, Gabby Gifford — and so many more. As the years have gone by I have lost my ability to be shocked.
We cry about those children, but really, we should cry all the time — this is an everyday thing. Only these multiple death ones make the news. After each event like this there is new resolve to do something about gun laws, and I hope something does happen, but to be honest, I think it’s unlikely. As the shock wears off the NRA lobbying dollars kick in.
I was thinking very early this morning, unable to sleep, about Why? An image of my grandmother, Regina Fraley, came to me and she whispered “lost souls” in my ear.
One day, 54 years ago, Regina took me with her on a shopping trip. She wore a pink dress and white gloves. She smelled like fancy soap. We passed a bum in the street who begged for some change. She opened her purse and gave him some and spent a few minutes talking to the man. This didn’t surprise me, Regina talked to everybody, even the garbage man. The bum looked up at us, his eyes, dead before, lit up. As we were walking away she shook her head and said “that poor man is a lost soul.” She said it with kindness, with empathy. I didn’t ask her what she meant. I knew what she meant. That person didn’t have a home, didn’t have a family, had nobody to talk to, and didn’t have someone to look after him. He was lost. I was four years old at the time and I understood.
We all understand — but we’ve trained ourselves to ignore people.
I’m not a psychologist. I am a human being. It occurs to me that the common denominator in many of these crazy incidents is that the shooters are lost souls. People that have fallen through the cracks of society. People who have been squashed by the trials of life and have nowhere to turn. People who aren’t looked after or even much talked to. People who are quite simply unloved and forgotten.
If you have anger, sorrow, sadness, or frustration related to yesterdays shooting, why not do something about it now?
Why not reach out for a lost soul?
Today. Let’s see if we can reel a few lost souls back in.
Search through your mental Roladex. Who is that person, that loner, you’ve chosen to ignore? Who is that human being you pass everyday but are loathe to engage with? We routinely ignore people who are troublesome, argumentative, boring, or stupid. Aren’t they the ones who need us the most?
One of those difficult people, somewhere, is desperate, right now, for someone to talk to. He hasn’t gone over the edge yet, that happens tomorrow.
It might be a family member. That nephew with the Mohawk that the whole family thinks is weird. It might be the doorman at your building, the one with bad breath. It might be the woman who cleans your house who always wants to talk rubbish.
Lost souls, ignored and unloved people, are all around us. If you want to prevent a tragedy, talk to a lost soul — someone who needs attention, a human connection, a bit of looking after, yes, love.
If we’re very lucky we’ll get a new gun law in 3 years.
You can love somebody who needs it today.