December 13, 2007

What Gets You Through

Over the past week, paragraphs like these have led stories across the country.

Item 1: "In his early 30s, fresh off his release from prison on rape charges, Timothy Krajcir enrolled in college to study psychology and the criminal justice system. Timonthy Krajcir, 63, pleaded guilty to one slaying and was charged with five others. Like other students, Krajcir was seeking self-enlightenment, a detective said. But over the next six years, Krajcir murdered at least six women in two states, covering up his crimes in part by using what he learned at Southern Illinois University, authorities said."

Item 2: "Tight security greeted high school students Wednesday as police searched for the gunmen who wounded six young people at a school bus stop, an attack that officials believe stemmed from a fight about a girl. Police work the scene of shootings at a school bus stop in North Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday. The six were wounded Tuesday shortly after a group of Mojave High School students got off a school bus in a working-class neighborhood in northeastern Las Vegas."

Item 3: "Police say Murray walked onto the campus hurling smoke bombs and armed with handguns, rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He fatally shot sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, before getting into a gunbattle with a security guard and finally killing himself, officials say."

In life, there's an inherent trust all of us have to have in the people around us. Trust in the fact that the guy doing 60 in the lane next to you won't decide to swerve and run you into a guardrail. Trust in the fact that your kids will be safe and well-treated when you drop them off at school. Trust in the fact that the people you elect to lead you, to establish laws, will do so with their own self-interests put aside. Stories like these, though, make me question that trust and whether or not it's misplaced.

It's taken me 35 years to realize that I'm not a realist as I'd imagined myself to be. I'm a hopeless optimist, which I think is something of an oxymoron. I believe the best in people until proven otherwise. I think you can you'll always be successful being nice. I firmly expect things to work out for the best. Being inherently cruel, the world often has to prove me wrong. And it did that just this week with news items like those above.

I don't mean to get you down but surely I can't be the only one who feels as if the reality I live in - the one in which people behave and don't shoot kids at bus stops - is tenuous at best. Right? And I can't be the only one who feels, at times, like moving to a farm in the middle of nowhere and trying to relegate the actual world to a place buried deep in the back corner of my brain.

What gets you through?

Posted by Chris at December 13, 2007 6:37 AM

Miller light and a doobie

Posted by: Matt at December 13, 2007 7:09 AM

The fact that most people don't seem to be raving maniacs with chainsaws, guns and a screwed up mind.

Last week I was cycling home from work when I heard a loud bang and then a girl screaming and crying loudly. It turned out her dog got hit by a car and was lying limb on the street.

The driver that hit the dog stayed with her and eventually brought the dog to the vet. Her son gave his vest to warm the dog.

Several people on the sidewalk stopped to comfort the girl and called 911 and the animal ambulance.

Six students cycling by turned out to be vets in training and stopped to provide medical assistance.

Yes, there are many crazy people out there, but I like to think (hopeful optimist?) that the good ones outweigh them by far.

And if not, Reeses peanut butter cups and sweet white wine will have to do. ;-)

Posted by: mikkie at December 13, 2007 7:32 AM

I drive home from work and the news is full of robbery's, rapes, murders and this is the LOCAL news.
Sometimes i think am i just repeating the cycle when i think that the kids of today dont know they are born and wonder why they behave that way.
Other days i just have to admit that parts of the world and the human race are just horrible.

Posted by: Pol at December 13, 2007 7:36 AM

I really try to tell myself that everyone in the world is just doing the best they can. I am certainly not an optimist by far, but, it helps to think that if someone is acting in a way that seems less-than-fantastic to me (i.e. my dad harping on the way I don't get along with my brother, my husband's ex-wife and the way she "parents" my stepson), that really, they are doign they best they can. It may not mesh with my standards, but I don't get to dictate everyone's standards.

Having said that, I found out recently that my kindergartner's school does a "Code Blue" drill to prepare for lockdown in the event of an intruder/shooter in the school and it makes me so unbelievably sad that that is the kind of world we live in. I guess preparedness is a good thing - but honestly, I hate that my kids are growwing up in a generation where these kind of drills along with fire drills are the norm.

Posted by: Sarah at December 13, 2007 7:54 AM

The last story has really gotten to me. I went to YWAM (not that campus -- I was in Texas) but I had at least one friend who went to the Denver campus. The YWAM family, as it were, is wide and varied and while yes, entirely Christian and sometimes really annoying and uppity and preachy, relatively harmless. It's a good place for confused Christian college-aged folks to go to figure out what the hell they want to do. I went there to write, figured out a lot about myself, and am better for it. I'm having a really hard time coping with the knowledge that someone would attack YWAMers. I can understand this kid's anguish, his anger at Christians, his anger toward YWAM for kicking him out of the program. I'm sure they did it to release themselves from any liability if something had happened on the trip. It's not the first time it has happened. But yeah. Having a difficult time with this one. I'm sitting in my office, so I'm trying really hard not to burst into tears.

How do I deal? I dive into the stupid, fluffy things in life. I watch stupid, girly movies and I read really badly written fanfiction. Lately, I've gotten back into writing, which helps me to get away.

But I also have to second the Miller Lite and the doobie comment. Except not Miller Lite. Sam Adams. :D

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at December 13, 2007 8:18 AM

For me it's a deserted island in the south pacific....just me and my loved ones.....leave all this insanity behind.

Posted by: Lisa at December 13, 2007 8:32 AM

You're doing it again. Making me think before 6:00 a.m.

Usually I can remember that these tragedies, like plane crashes, make the news because they're rare. Not that it makes them any less tragic to the people involved and those of us who sit and want to weep when we read about them of course, but most of us go through our lives getting on planes that land safely, sending our kids off to school without incident, attending church if that's what we do, and arriving safely home from a day at the office.

That's usually. There are also days when I dread getting out of bed in the morning and am glad I don't have another almost 70 years to look forward to. It passes.

On the other hand, for every "bad" thing that has happened to me over the years, I can think of a dozen acts of kindness, including yours. So I go on, trying to live my life "doing unto others" and never completely letting go of hope.

Posted by: ann adams at December 13, 2007 9:00 AM

So here's my thing (okay there are several) especially now that I raising children in this world.

For all of the horrible media driven headlines, there are also many wonderful things happening in this country and world.

Additionally, while these are indeed horrible things (and I am not negating these things or the people who are affected by them) I also know that there things happening in other countries that we do not hear about/turn a blind eye to, that are far more disturbing.

Also, if the media did not report on these items so veraciously I believe they would not happen as often. That young disturbed boy in Utah (?) last week said specifically that he was doing the killing to end his life famous. The same evening of his shootings, The Today Show was "ADVERTISING" the full story on the incident tomorrow morning - just tune in and watch!!! Like holy shit this is excitement folks, this is media and drama and dammit that boy was 100% correct in that he got his 15 minutes of fame...

Finally, after my rant above, my mother was born in 1939 in the Netherlands. She remembers war planes flying over head, bombings, blackened windows, hunger, rotting food, and general despair in her life. The thing is if you rehearse history in your mind there has always been violence and fear in the world - I feel fairly confident that there has not been a generation that does not feel the way you & I likely feel about humanity. And while that is scary, it also placates me to some degree. It is not the end of the world, some people are not good but many are and we should try to teach and learn from the past.

I officially digress and step off my soap box...

Posted by: Christina at December 13, 2007 9:16 AM

I remain a hopeless optimist, too.

And there's a lot of good out there. It just doesn't make the news as often.

Posted by: Alison at December 13, 2007 9:17 AM

Ice cream. That, and stories like the one mikkie shared, that remind me there really are more decent people than bad ones out there.

Posted by: Fraulein N at December 13, 2007 9:18 AM

I would love to be self-sufficient enought to live on a farm, away from everything/one... but then I would miss out new music/books/movies/people.. and all of the actual good stuff that the world has to offer. It sucks that we have to live in a world that isn't all bunnies and rainbows...

Posted by: ::c:: at December 13, 2007 9:20 AM

It's funny, yesterday I was asking myself the same questions. I too am an optimist and really the only thing that gets me through, as cliche as it is, is my daughter. Last night, after reading up on the latest horrors in the news, I went into her room and just snuggled up with her for a few minutes. When she wraps her arm around my neck to hug me tighter I feel much better about the world.

Posted by: tulip at December 13, 2007 9:30 AM

I'm afraid that I've become a hopeless cynic over the years; I have zero faith in human nature. I have incredible friends, I'm an uncle and God-parent, I have one of the best 'vocations' that I think a person can have...but I definitely see the world through very very dark lenses. Our 'justice' system drops the hammer as hard as it can on people, places them in a debilitatingly awful environment, then releases them into a society that goes out of it's way to isolate and alienate them, and then everyone acts in horror when these people re-offend. Outside of the law, people are shown an unrealistic standard of 'success', then spend their lives feeling like failures when they don't measure up to an imaginary yardstick, then when they snap and shoot people, everyone wonders how it could possibly happen. Sexuality is both advertised and demonized, further confusing and frustrating adolescents and adults, alike, and everyone wonders why the number of rapes increase annually, the pointless sex offender registry grows every year, and no one anywhere is any safer. The world we live in is toxic.

My dream is to patent a couple things and work as an independent researcher from a house next to the ocean in a place like Nova Scotia that's only accessible by float-plane. Sorry for the rant, Chris. You're fault :)

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at December 13, 2007 9:31 AM

I'm the opposite- I believe the worst in people until they prove me otherwise. It leads for a very firm, very bleak view of humanity at large. Sure, the axe murderers are relatively few compared to the rest of the population - but they nice people who will stop and help you are too.

In general, in my world, everyone's a jerk or potential murderer.

I guess what gets me though is acceptance... I can't change it, so why fuss about it?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 13, 2007 9:33 AM

I debate moving to a remote farm or homeschooling my kids every day. Can you remove yourself from society to protect them? I don't think you can ever protect them fully, so you have to trust.
Even if people let you down every day.

I like the miller and doobie option though!

Posted by: Tuesday at December 13, 2007 9:35 AM

Since two of the 3 paragraphs above reference gun crimes, I'm going to come out and answer your question with "I live in Canada". Now, granted horrid things happen here, but with less population and less guns out there and in the hands of kids, things don't seem anywhere near as bad up here. I grew up in Australia which is pretty similar.

I am a high school teacher and you know, a gun incident in my school is not really something I think about. However, I am not sure I could do the same job in America.

There is something about your country that scares me. You guys do not have a monopoly on evil by any stretch, but there is something inherent about life in America that seems to breed these sorts of incidents. Maybe it is the huge gulf between rich and poor; lack of socialised medical coverage; universities that are not subsidised by the government and too expensive for most; a history of slavery or that horrible right to bear arms, but - wow! I want to know how you guys get through too.

Sorry, this was not meant to be derogatory towards America, and I apologise if I have come across this way. Along with the scary stuff, many great things have also come from your country that have benefited the world in an extremely positive way.

It is just so hard to reconcile.

Posted by: Jacqueline at December 13, 2007 9:48 AM

I must link to this. I must get more people to read this. It is a perfect post. If I had awards you'd win. I have no awards. Just awe.

Posted by: Poppy at December 13, 2007 10:03 AM

I guess what gets me through, oddly enough, are the stories that you mentioned -- knowing that despite all of the crap I'm slogging through at times, life can be worse.

I could be homeless, but I'm not.
I could be poor, but I'm not.
I could be unemployed, but I'm not.
I could be dead, or lose a loved one in a tragedy, but I haven't.

And if any of those things did happen to me, I know that eventually, on the other side of the darkness, there is a light.

I've had a pretty rough past year and a half. I got divorced, fought and clawed my way to have time with my kids, worked a part-time overnight job while trying to hold down a day job during my separation and eventually lost my day job due to a layoff.

But after all of that, after all of that skull crushing, heart wrenching, festering uncertainty, I'm still here. I'm happier than ever, my kids love me and my time with them is unobstructed, my layoff turned into me finding a dream job and I've found a new, profound and amazing love.

I guess it's all in how you look at it. It also helps to turn off the news, put down the newspaper and immerse yourself in the things that matter to you, that you truly love. It may seem selfish, but we all know, inherently, what we need to live and thrive. So why wouldn't we do those things?

Posted by: Jase at December 13, 2007 10:11 AM

You just have to believe that people are not out to hurt each other, or else it WILL make you crack. There was a shooting at my high school when I was 15, and it took me years to recover from that experience. For a long time, I worried that the person walking behind me might just pump me full of holes. But I had to let it go, and learn to trust people again. The alternative was not an enticing option.

I rationalize it by believing that these things are really rare. If they weren't then life would be like a war zone, and that isn't the case. We worry about these things when we watch them on TV in our living room. And even if they are experienced firsthand, they are once in a lifetime events. They *have* to be isolated events or else they wouldn't be on the evening news, they would be too commonplace.

At least I tell myself that, and hope I never have another experience like I did that day in high school. I don't want to be wrong.

Posted by: intergalactic at December 13, 2007 10:37 AM

You're not and I imagine how much harder it is with children.

What gets me through? That's something to think about. I'll get back to you.

Posted by: She Likes Purple at December 13, 2007 10:58 AM

What gets me through? The thought that there are still good things in this world. Really good things. And I try to find those good things and hold on to them.

Like the good people in my life. And my family.

Posted by: Isabel at December 13, 2007 12:02 PM

I don't know, Chris. I think, much like people who have had near-death experiences, I've gotten better at valuing each day. Every day that I can wake up, play with kids, enjoy my wife, go to my good job, and buy the things I need and want to be comfortable and happy, is a good day. Those are my good days.

And then some days I worry about Jen being safe in a school full of potential murderers. I worry about my mom dying unexpectedly (she slipped on ice yesterday at a restaurant and quite literally was inches from a broken neck or skull). I worry about my kids drowning in the bathtub or a dresser falling over on them at day care. I worry that I will die in traffic and leave my family as early as my dad did (35). Those are my worst days.

Luckily, I'm an optimist too... and there are far many more good days than bad.

Posted by: Brad at December 13, 2007 12:07 PM

Um, I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere.
And you know what, it helps some, but nothing is guaranteed. Stuff happens here too. :(

Posted by: Traci at December 13, 2007 12:16 PM

I just realized I didn't answer your faith is what gets me through. I have a great deal of compassion and empathy for people because I've seen my own dark side and understand that every person is capable of the absolute worst, and that the deciding factor is always always always a matter of circumstance. Empathy and compassion are also why I'm in biomedical research. In the end, it's all about hope and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at December 13, 2007 12:39 PM

There are days when the world just seems totally chaotic and out of control. To deal I make crazy, silly little art pieces that I hope makes other people laugh, at least a little bit.

It makes me feel better anyway. :)

Posted by: wendy at December 13, 2007 1:24 PM

I am a realist. Some might peg me as a pessimist, but really, I am a realist. I can't watch the nightly news or read the paper about all the local shootings, murders, rapes, and other senseless and brutal slayings. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I don't let my children out of my sight. Ever. Because I don't trust the other guy. I will smile, be polite, and be pleasant to the other guy, but I will never trust the other guy.

Posted by: Jen at December 13, 2007 2:49 PM

not thinking about it.

is that bad? maybe. but i've got to protect my sanity bby any means necessary. i've got so little of it left.

Posted by: Noelle at December 13, 2007 6:17 PM

right now, what's getting me through is books.

Posted by: jodi at December 13, 2007 6:20 PM

the statement "ignorance is bliss" has never been truer than in my little nogen... I don't watch the news, I don't read the papers... and it's an understatement to say that I get all my knowledge from the internet... which to me can be made up by anyone, so if I don't want to believe it... I DON'T HAVE TO!!!...

just never ask me for advice on anything I haven't' experienced myself...

Posted by: Tori at December 13, 2007 6:49 PM

I live in a place and go to school in a place that has a relatively low crime rate, minus various thefts for drug money. I suppose thats what keeps me going - the safety I have in my own community that I assume will surround me wherever I go. That said, when I go shopping in a bigger city alone - even in the middle of the day - I'm well aware of what can happen.

Posted by: Stephanie at December 13, 2007 9:51 PM

Lexapro and not watching the news.

Posted by: krystyn at December 14, 2007 1:30 AM

You have to trust, otherwise you'll go crazy with worry.

I read a local story about some guy who just got out of prison 2 months ago. He pulled a 4 year old girl off a jungle gym at the park and sexually assaulted her. Right there at the park. Her family heard her screams, rescued her and held the guy until the police came. What self control that family must have had to not have hurt that guy. It's a sick sick world.

Posted by: Nila at December 14, 2007 7:40 AM

Reading over these comments I realised one important thing:

as long as this stuff is on the news, in papers and on the net it is a good thing. It namely means that it is so uncommon that it is worth reporting, it is "news".

Once it is no longer in the media, that's when it gets really really scary.

Posted by: mikkie at December 14, 2007 8:58 AM

well - some days it is extremely hard to watch the news and I just turn it off - can't watch. There's a lot about this world that concerns me but it's taken me a long time to realize that I can't worry about what I can't control. I just try to be the best person I can be and be thankful for what I have.

Posted by: Sue at December 14, 2007 11:00 AM

I go through phases where I can't watch the news because it's so upsetting. I still want to stay connected to what's going on in the world, but it can be so utterly, helplessly depressing that I just have to block it out.
During the times that I do watch the news/read the paper, I find myself doing a lot of yoga to balance it out.
Not sure what I'd do if I had kids. Honestly, one of the reasons I haven't yet is because of the state of the world. What a scary place!

Posted by: Amaya at December 14, 2007 4:46 PM

The fact that for every senseless and evil act, there are more beautiful ones, and that sometimes good can come from bad. Listening to my daughter talk about wanting to give her sick Grandmommy a hug and a cookie to make her feel better. Hearing about the tears on a friend's face when they opened an anonymous, but much needed, gift. Talking to my brother and realizing that several years ago he was on the road to destruction, and today he is drug-free, happily married and capable of a relationship with his family.

Posted by: Amy at December 14, 2007 4:53 PM

Family and friends. Knowing that life is full of ups and downs and that the bad times are few. I realize everyday how lucky our family is. We never worry about putting food on our table or worry about heating our home. Everyone can't say that and costs for everything keeps going up. Many families are feeling the pinch.

I remember what it was like as a kid to have little.

I ditto the news comments. I rarely watch the news as they focus on the wrong things and glamorize every tragedy to the point of stupidity.

Posted by: Diane at December 15, 2007 3:20 PM

The one jury trial I sat on was all about this young kid who got cheated on by his girlfriend and sent him into a string of very stupid moves. He waved around a gun, stole a car, beat someone up, etc. The whole time, all I could think was, "Someone needs to teach that boy how to deal with disappointment."

Seriously, that's all he needed. And sadly, I think that's one of the biggest problems we have with these crazy people. They just need to learn HEALTHY ways to deal with disappointment.

Strangely, that keeps me sane. It makes me believe people can be saved. Maybe all they needed was a hug.

Posted by: Elaine at December 16, 2007 5:23 PM

People deserve very good life time and loan or car loan would make it better. Just because freedom depends on money.

Posted by: ElmaHahn28 at September 7, 2010 3:43 PM