Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tears are not enough, what happens after a tragedy?

I have been thinking and wondering about all the conversations that I have been involved in, listened to, seen on the internet and read on Twitter about the tragic loss of Amanda Todd.  There is a lot to think about, especially based on the publicity, the presence in social media and the reporting in all the media.  The ones that have struck me the most have been under the #RIPAmanda hashtag on twitter.  I have seen so many people sharing the story, saying how it reduced them to tears and being emotional about how the story impacted them.  This has stirred some fear in me and a question, what happens when the tears stop flowing?
As I started to think about a "What next?" question, the Northern Lights song "Tears Are Not Enough" popped into my head and it struck a chord.  Crying over something but not doing anything about it unfortunately accomplishes very little.  What are you going to do differently?  How are you going to act differently?  How are you going to treat people differently?  If we do not learn as a society, and more importantly as individuals from this, then unfortunately we risk to have it continue.

We must become the person that doesn't add to the mess.  It is time to do something about the tears that have been shed, the bad memories that have come back, the thoughts that we could have done something or just the feeling of hopelessness.  There must be a phoenix to rise from these ashes.  There will be programs brought in, speakers hired, panels set up and other ambitious goals will come out of these conversations.  There are all important steps to take, but not everyone is able to do something on a big stage.  In my opinion it starts much smaller.  Every person who has been touched by this story needs to do something small.

There is a small group of middle school students who have approached their principal, with request for anonymity, with a goal of doing random acts of kindness for students that they know are struggling.  There are high school students who are making an extra effort to spend some time at middle schools doing after school sessions specifically targeting at risk students.  Everyone can do something.  It means doing something extra, doing something different.  It means talking to your friends who are making one person the butt of their jokes.  It means cutting out the cutting comments.  It means not losing it on the poor telephone service operator who in all likelihood had nothing to do with your cable not working.  It means not making a rude comment when some poor person is digging through their wallet or purse trying to find the money to pay for the groceries and you are being inconvenienced by a few minutes.  It means taking the time to listen to that family member who can be a drag to listen to but that you know really needs someone to listen to them.  It means take a few minutes of your time to make someone's day a little better, not worse.

Tears are not enough for this tragedy.  There must be a significant shift in behaviour.  The phoenix that must rise is how we respond to what has happened by altering our actions, our attitude  our treatment of others and the respect we show ourselves, others around us and the environment we live in.  Let's take a memory of a tragedy and do something about it to have some positive light come from this.  It would be great to move from #RIPAmanda to #InMemoryOfAmanda and then mentioning some small deed you did to make the world a better place.


  1. Thanks Remi - you articulated this beautifully!
    I too want to be part of a longer term shift -not just a temporary awareness!

    We don't need bandaids now. We need more than tears.

    I've really been working on shifting this in my own home - to help myself and my children remember that EVERY human being is a miracle. That EVERY person has "stuff" going on that we don't know or see, so taking a moment to reach out or find some patience can make a big difference.

    And I've come down to only two rules in my home. Everything comes down to these two questions:
    1) is it kind?
    2) is it respectful of self, others and the world around you?

    With that focus, our conversations are very different. And this reminds me to keep my focus on that approach, consistently - even when I get tired or it would be easier to react, rather than respond...

  2. With all the emotion and natural sympathy that people are feeilng - sadly I hear daily from parents in the Greater Vancouver area whose children are being bullied in their local schools.
    Many of these parents express dissatisfaction with the school's response.
    So right now - at this point in time - what are some of the best strategies for a Greater Vancouver area parent to pursue?
    What to do here in our great city when your child is bullied at school and you feel the school is not helping adjust the problem effectively.
    Ideas anyone?

  3. I read your post a few days ago, and was pleased to hear parts of it again today at the memorial. Your kind words were poignant and well delivered. Neither "thank you" nor "congratulations" are appropriate to say here. Maybe I will just say that I really appreciate your wisdom, your professionalism, and your obvious loyalty to good friends.

    -a Coquitlam colleague

  4. Dear Rushy,
    I wish there was a simple answer to your question as bullying is such a complicated issue. The only advice I can offer is that the parents document what is happening and speak to the principal. If it is ongoing then I would take it to the superintendent of the district, again chronicling the events that are occuring, making note of when they spoke to the teacher and the principal.

  5. Thank you Greenhouse, your comment is much appreciaited.