It’s not that hard to imagine the natural world recovering it’s health in our absence: it’s more difficult, and more necessary, to imagine it recovering its health in our presence. —Alex Steffen
There is, in the following words, no attempt to be funny. I’m well aware that the thought of recovering from the weekend typically involves stories of a more whimsical nature, often involving some level of drunkenness and subsequent shenanigans, but that’s just not possible. This wasn’t a fun weekend, and even now, since I started typing, we’re finding out more that is absolutely breaking our hearts. Here’s a synopsis of the things that got our attention this weekend, in no particular order.
- Shortly after noon on Friday, a young mother with whom we are acquainted delivered a baby boy. He was not healthy. He was not bouncing. He was stillborn from his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck. After a full nine months of waiting and excitement, her baby was gone.
- Saturday evening, a young mother was killed when a semi plowed into the back of her car that was, for reasons likely to remain unknown, stopped in the right lane of the interstate. Her son, who is a very precious special needs little boy, attended the same daycare as Kat’s little ones and always came running to say hi when we picked them up.
- Early Sunday morning, a 27-year-old police officer and a supervising sergeant were attempting to serve an arrest warrant for, of all things, drug paraphernalia at a trailer park near Kokomo. The situation went bad quickly and both officers were hit in a shootout that killed the suspect. The younger officer died from his injuries Sunday morning, leaving behind a wife and baby boy.
- Over 150 firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire Sunday night at a truck stop on Indy’s west side. The fire started outside the Denny’s restaurant attached to the truck stop. Damages are estimated to be over $2 million.
- A school bus carrying a high school basketball team and coaches from Northwest Indiana was sideswiped by a car on Saturday, resulting in it rolling off the highway. Miraculously, none of the boys were severely hurt, though there were, understandably, a number of cuts and severe bruises. One coach was airlifted to the hospital but is in good condition. What caused the driver of the car to swerve into the bus? Her drink spilled.
- Shots were fired at a police cruiser on Indianapolis’ near Northside a little after 11:15 last night. No officers were hit, but the event underscores tensions in that neighborhood.
- No fewer than three people were killed in additional traffic accidents over the weekend.
Yesterday was supposed to be the International Day of Happiness, but for a large number of people across Indiana, there was nothing to be happy about. The things I’ve listed here are just a fraction of events that occurred around the world. In Spain, a bus carrying exchange students crashed, killing 14. In Southern Russia, a FlyDubai flight crashed as it attempted to land at an airport, killing all 62 people on board. A suicide bomber killed four in a busy market in Istanbul. North Korea fired at least five short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, raising international tensions.
So much tragedy in such a short period of time leaves our senses reeling. Anyone of those events was horribly traumatic for the families of those involved. Even for those of us who might not be directly effected, the number of events is disturbing.
Sunday was also the vernal equinox, the start of Spring, a time we typically associate with freshness and new beginning. We think of Spring as a time of renewal, a chance to start over, to break free of the dreariness of the winter. Yet, with all the tragedy of this weekend, feeling those positive vibes is difficult.
Recovering from all this takes a moment. Recovering from a single tragedy, even when we weren’t directly involved, is like waiting for a bruise to heal. With so many, so close in time, recovering feels a bit like trying to get over losing a prize fight. When one is empathetic with the world, as one should be, recovering requires acts of kindness to offset the cruelty and tragedy. Finding such kindness, especially on a Monday, can be difficult.
What bothers me more, though, are people who can shrug everything off without feeling anything at all. They are totally disconnected emotionally from the rest of the world. When bad things happen around them, they feel nothing. These people scare me, for those who do not share empathy with those around them are more likely to commit violent acts themselves, or tolerate acts of violence by others. When there is a lack of empathy among those who would be our world leaders, we are at risk of war.
Recovering from this weekend is going to take a moment. I would ask that you please be kind to those you encounter because you never know who has had tragedy in their life this weekend. We all can use a smile and maybe a hug where it’s appropriate. We need this week to get better quickly, but it will take all of us to make that happen.