April 20, 1999. September 11, 2001. April 16, 2007. December 14, 2012.

These dates have defined a generation – my generation. A generation that has to be more aware of their surroundings. A generation that understands “safe” is a relative word. A generation that locks their doors and sets alarms. A generation who’s optimism and innocence has been tested, and for some some, completely stripped away.

Columbine. 9/11. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. On Friday our country dealt with the kind of tragedy that honestly cannot be explained. And even here – now – I find myself not being able to come up with something profound or eloquent to say – but I felt like I had to say something.

I’m not a deeply religious person, so rather than turn directly to God or a higher power – I look within. And I believe in my heart that is what must be done now. Our leaders, our decision makers, our friends and family, and each of us – must look within and reflect.

I’m not sure there’s a lesson to be learned here. The murder of innocent people is tough for me to swallow as any sense of logical “lesson” to take something away from. But if there could be one – if there is a takeaway to be had – I believe this encourages us to look within and seriously reflect on how we treat ourselves – and maybe more importantly, each other.

My good friend Brett summed this up beautifully on Facebook over the weekend:

“Maybe, just maybe, instead of trying to “understand” the cause of human dysfunction – we can look to the most obvious solution to human dysfunction.

Understanding. Decency. Love. Respect (self included). Acceptance. Honesty. Inclusion instead of drawing lines in the sand and swimming in self-righteous indignation. Handshakes instead of fingers pointed. All colors instead of everything being black or white, this or that, etc.

Maybe then we can stop arguing on Facebook about what progress looks like or what map lines carve out a “true America.” Maybe we can stop fueling our egoistic need to be right by focusing all of our energy on doing right. Maybe we can stop expecting government policy to fix the problems we perpetuate, and start looking to EACH OTHER for answers.

To start – how about we learn how to fucking be good to each other as a species?”

Today, friends – I’ll be honest – today I am afraid. I’m worried. I’m shocked. I’m angry. I’m confused. I’m humbled. But most of all, I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because I have to be – and we, collectively, must maintain hope. We must.

Today I’m hopeful that even in our darkest hours, community, compassion, and love will conquer fear and hate.

My heart – all of my heart – is with the families who have lost so, so much.

(Photo credit)

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.