Monday, June 20, 2016

Parenting Pointers: The Very Best of Mankind

Did it bring tears to your eyes as you saw 600 people in line on Sunday in Orlando to donate blood? 
Often, some like to get right down to it and find out who’s fault it is. While it is one way to sort through our despair and anger, it is not very productive. Ultimately, blame feels empty.
Well-trained heroic law enforcement and SWAT teams deftly managed the devastating mass shooting in Orlando on Sunday. Although we feel enormous grief and anger over the loss of so many, pointing fingers at the how’s, why’s, and motivations of the horrific situation won’t bring fifty loved ones back; won’t immediately heal the wounds of so many.
What can we do?
Not point fingers.
For Geoff, the tragedy on Sunday brought back distinct memories from 14 years and 9 months ago. The horror. The waiting to learn. When Geoff’s brother died in the World Trade Center, yes, we felt despair and anger.
Geoff quickly discovered the healthiest thing to do was not carry around more ire and blame. When friends discovered the loss of Geoff’s brother, they literally and figuratively hugged the family for weeks and months: baked goods, visits, phone calls, flowers, all cloaked in tender hugs. Community hearts open, they stepped up to be the best versions of themselves.
A few days after 9/11, Geoff’s sister-in-law and her friend went to a lady’s boutique to purchase something suitable for the memorial service. When the salesperson discovered the occasion from the friend, the salesperson pulled five articles of clothing on hangers, accessories—with high-end price tags that she did not show the widow—wrapped them, and gently shepherded them to the door. No monies exchanged hands; just hearts wanting to help.
When Geoff’s sister-in-law’s mother went to the stationery story to purchase paper goods for the home gathering following the funeral, the sales person did the same thing: she filled several bags with pretty napkins, plates, forks, and shooed her out the door.
“I made a decision that this isn’t the way his life story is going to end. Not with tragedy and horror. That is not going to be my brother’s legacy,” Geoff said, in one of many interviews, in churches and the media.
Let’s redirect our grief and extend energy toward the families and friends of more than 100 people. Rally around them.
We gave blood here in Sarasota. Florida, to backfill the supplies that hours before, had been shipped to Orlando. The SRO crowds in the reception area—filled to capacity—didn’t balk about the two-hour wait time. (These might be the same people who get upset at a two-minute traffic light.) Perspectives shift.
Re-purposing our grief and anger in this way is a positive step. Geoff finished a project his brother had started—rebuilding the family’s sailboat. Friends eagerly helped in any way they could: advice, paint, labor, supplies.
On Sunday, as loved ones waited in an agonizing vigil at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, friends and strangers held hands. Albeit small, this helps.
The very best is not to point fingers.
The very best is to support the families.
“I said to my son nearly 15 years ago, ‘You’ve seen the worst of what mankind can do. Pay close attention, because from this point on, you’ll see the very best of what mankind can do.’”
Poppy and Geoff Spencer are relationship coaches and authors of 1 Billion Seconds. Geoff lost his brother on 9/11 in the World Trade Centers in New York City.  They live in Sarasota, FL., and can be found online at and  They lost each other as young adults but found one another 32 years, or 1 billion seconds later and are living happily ever after.

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