“What can I do?”
After last Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, former Today Show host and NBC correspondent Ann Curry asked herself this question. It’s one many have been asking themselves in the wake of this horrible tragedy — as the nation makes sense of another act of violence in the past year and looks for answers. Much of the conversation has revolved around rethinking our gun control policies, discussing our lack of resources for the mentally ill, questioning our media culture of violence, pondering the privilege of white masculinity and its role in mass murder and asking our politicians to take the next step in this conversation. We need to finally have these discussions. We need to turn remembrance into dialogue and come together to create a better society, where tragedy doesn’t become the status quo.
And as Curry’s example shows, we need to act. Although the rhetoric is a little Oprah-y, Curry suggested on Sunday that the best way to honor the victims of Sandy Hook was through kindness. Taking a page from the film Pay It Forward, starring Haley Joel Osment and Kevin Spacey, Curry advised Americans to do one good deed for each victim. Here’s what she said about it:
I took to Twitter and asked people to imagine what would happen if all of us committed to 20 acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I added, “I’m in. If you are, RT #20Acts.”
Tens of thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook not only seized the idea, they increased it to #26Acts, to include the heroic teachers, and are launching acts of kindness big and small all over America. The acts are spreading overseas, including one tweeted from Borneo.
Curry has been retweeting many of the responses to the campaign, with folks chiming in to say they bought the mall Santa a Starbucks gift card or shoveled their neighbor’s driveway. One elementary school teacher sent all of her former teachers emails to thank them for inspiring her.
These random acts of kindness won’t fix the structural problems that lead to gun violence, but the campaign helps instill our faith in humanity during a time when we need to believe in goodness again. These acts help turn strangers into neighbors and bring us closer together to remember, to dialogue and to heal. We need to end our cultural norms of violence, and sometimes that starts with simply making the world a better and more loving place. Change starts small. Change starts with you.
To take her pledge, share your act of kindness using the hashtag #26Acts on Twitter. Follow Ann Curry @AnnCurry. Share this post. Facebook status update about it. Do whatever you can to be a force for good in a world that needs your engagement.
I’m in. Now the question is: who’s with me?