Isolated: Where compassion falls short

Photo credit: Lorie Shaull 

Since last week’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, several articles have suggested a seemingly simple solution to the epidemic of gun violence in our schools. Not tighter restrictions on who has access to deadly weapons, what kind, or how many. Not investments in mental healthcare access and intervention. Not fixing the broken system that allowed a tip reported to the FBI about Nikolas Cruz to fall by the wayside. Not even heightening security checks at schools or arming teachers to fight fire with fire.

These articles have simply suggested that we should all reach out to the lonely and ostracized among us. That we should encourage our children to counter their classmates’ isolation and disconnection with a friendly smile and an invitation to sit together in the cafeteria.

Sounds idyllic–all these shiny happy people holding hands at recess. No child left behind in a toxic stew of neglect, self-doubt, and revenge fantasies. Teens and pre-teens with the emotional maturity to not ridicule a classmate today because they don’t want to get gunned down while they cower under a desk tomorrow. Continue reading

Adrift: One Year After


It’s been one year since I last posted on this blog. I didn’t intentionally step away. I drifted. That’s a good descriptor of the past year for me overall, in fact–drifting. I’d just come out of a year of caregiving for my wife, undergoing grueling treatment for breast cancer. My family was reeling and rebuilding after a flood devastated my childhood home and much of my hometown. I felt unmoored in a new city where we’d relocated only months before my wife’s diagnosis, giving us little time or energy to settle and find community before all our attention turned to fighting cancer.

And suddenly, shockingly (though perhaps it shouldn’t have been), I felt unmoored in my country as well, as hate seemed to pop out of every tiny tear in our societal fabric and everything felt so achingly consequential. Suddenly the stakes were higher–for me at least, as a white person who’d felt little of the oppression others had lived with long before. Suddenly, the bend in that arc of history felt longer. Continue reading