By Daniel Dunaief
Normally, I’d build towards my request, but I know you’re busy. So, here’s the request: please send stories about your observations of graceful actions in our community. When I get enough of them, I’ll put them together in an article. If they keep coming, I’ll put together additional columns.
Now, onto the pitch: the challenges of today and in the uncertain times ahead continue to increase even as we are now only a few months away from the countdown to 2021. What kind of Halloween will we have this year? What kind of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or, if you’re a fan of the show Seinfeld, Festivus, awaits? We know we can’t plan for the kinds of things that we used to, like seeing friends and family in large groups, snuggling up close to watch movies or to tell stories of the triumphs of our children or our companies.
As of the date of this week’s paper, we have 47 days between now and the election and who knows how much longer between now and when an already-contested national election is actually decided. That means we will hear the word “disgraceful” bandied about as if it were the best way to take down the other side.
Democrats and Republicans will call the acts, thoughts and plans of the other side “disgraceful.” While you may agree with one person or party about how your favorite politician’s opponent is, indeed, completely lacking in grace and has ideas, thoughts or expressions that are as close to an abomination as you can imagine, those words and accusations don’t elevate your hero or you, for that matter.
Sure, it feels good to find targets for the frustrations and disappointments of a difficult year. However, during challenging times such as these, how about if we share the grace with which people are handling these challenges?
Teachers, principals, janitors and everyone else associated with schools are operating under extremely difficult conditions. Surely you must have seen one of the people in the education world come up with a graceful solution to these maddening moments?
Then there are all the people involved in health care, from first responders, to nurses, to doctors. I suspect we could create a wall of stories that reveal the grace under pressure that not only inspired you over the course of this difficult year, but also could inspire other readers looking for positive messages.
Police officers, fire fighters and other emergency services workers never know exactly what they’ll face in a day, from a cat stuck in a tree to an unstable domestic violence incident, to an escalating confrontation among protesters on opposite sides of a boiling nation. The grace some of these people demonstrate can lower the temperature and restore calm and peace.
Speaking of grace, religious leaders can and do lead by example, writing sermons and acting with patience and dignity that encourage us to find the best of ourselves.
While it’s tempting to write that Mrs. Smith is a graceful teacher, please think about what she does that’s so endearing. When you show us the story, by providing an anecdote about how Mrs. Smith defused a bullying situation or encouraged your daughter to stop sucking her thumb with subtle hand gestures, you are taking our hand and leading us into that socially-distanced classroom full of masked learners.
Hopefully, whatever stories you share, if you have the time, will motivate us to follow the examples of others who have found a way, despite circumstances that may seem out of their control, to reveal the kind of grace that soothes the soul and brings meaning to each day.