Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It Always Begins Small...

Yesterday it was my turn to write at a group blog I belong to. It's called Goddesses of Storytelling, and you can read it here:

I didn't set out to write about Virginia Tech, but when I sat down at the computer, I found I couldn't NOT write about it. These kinds of horrendous stories seem to sneak up on us because our minds won't let us think about the entire thing all at once. First we knew there had been a shooting in a dorm. Then we heard it might not be over yet. Next we knew there was gunfire in a classroom. The story came to us in little pieces.

Other disastrous events follow the same pattern. I was thirteen years old. My Algebra teacher had asked me to take some papers to the main office. As I walked back to the classroom, two boys were in the hall. One said to the other, "Did you hear? The president's been shot." Ridiculous, I thought. Those boys are just being silly. Minutes after I returned to the class, there was an announcement over the intercom system. President John F. Kennedy has been shot. Of course all classwork stopped. I remember my teacher speculating that this would have an impact on the stock market. I can't imagine why that was his thought, but we all react differently to things, don't we? Just minutes later, there was a second announcement. Our president was dead.

Twenty or so years later, I was standing at the end of my driveway with my toddler son in my arms. We always went outside when there was a NASA launch at Cape Canaveral. Even on the other coast, we could see the rocket boosters and the vapor trail in the bright Florida sky. He was squirming to get down. I was pointing at the widening plume of white smoke. Then suddenly the plume split and produced two separate arcs of white trail, now heading back down. This is wrong, I thought. It isn't supposed to look like this.

Jump forward about fifteen more years. I was in my office at my family's business. My sister called. She was on her way to the office and heard something weird on the radio. An airplane flew into the World Trade Center. How bizarre. Must have been one of those small private planes, we thought. Never crossed our minds that someone could orchestrate an attack of that scope and intensity.

This age of instant communication allows us to receive things in little pieces, little bits of information that we then piece together to make the whole picture. But always we find the human element, the emotion, the story behind the story. We must never forget in the face of great tragedy that we need to always be kind to each other, always show our feelings to our loved ones, always strive to make our world a better place.

Have a wonderful day. Hug someone you love.

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