What’s in a Name?

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the superstorm which ripped apart the entire east coast and the school which recently had 26 precious lives torn from it share the same name: Sandy. This got me thinking and so I decided to look up the origins of the name. According to multiple resources, the name Sandy derives from the Greek “Alexandros” which means “Defender, Helper of Mankind.” To many, the irony in this is remarkable. How can two tragedies, occurring within months of each other, bear a name that means something seemingly so safe and uplifting? If anything these events have severely damaged mankind, not defended it, right?

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There are no words that could explain what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. No way to justify how or why such a horrific event could have occurred. These are children we are talking about. The most defenseless, innocent creatures on this earth. How do we gain closure from something this? The truth is, we don’t. When events like this, which we cannot possibly wrap our minds around, occur, we must rely on the only thing in the world that helps us get through the inexplicable: faith. Faith is accepting that there is something that will help us get through that which we cannot explain. Faith is knowing that it’s not fair that these innocent little angels have been snatched from their families, but still sharing their stories and not letting anger prevent the world from seeing the light each wonderful little jewel will add to the starry nights. Faith is knowing that signs are given, miracles do occur, and everything can’t just be chalked up to coincidence.

If you don’t have faith in a higher power then have faith in this. There is good all around us. Good lies within ourselves. We see it in the thousands of fundraising efforts to help those who lost everything in Hurricane Sandy: Strangers opening up their homes to those needing a warm place to sleep; people joining together to clean up mountains of debris and help dig up precious remains of horrified homeowner’s lives.

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We hear it in the stories of the victims of Sandy Hook. Daniel Barden was seven years of pure goodness. His father laughed in an interview reminiscing about how many times he would be halfway across the parking lot and look back to see his son holding open doors for strangers. The same goes for 27-yr-old teacher, Vicki Soto, who died shielding her students from the killer. Although she had many more years to become jaded by the evils of the world than Daniel did, this did not stop her goodness from shining through.

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Goodness does not have to be learned in school.  Nor does it have an expiration date. It is something we are born with. But, it is also something that must be worked for. We can’t take it for granted because there are, unfortunately, some evil people in the world. Not many, but more than we would wish for. The majority of people lie in a constant struggle between good and evil. That’s life. We are faced with decisions every day. It is up to us to decide whether or not to do the right thing.

As one teacher said to comfort her class of frightened children, “the good guys are coming.” Believe in the good guys. Know that there will always be people out there willing to help. But also know this: the most important “good guy” to rely on is yourself. Have enough faith in yourself to realize that you can make a difference in this world. As our president said in a heartfelt speech about the victims of Sandy Hook, we must “make our country worthy of their memory.” That starts with you.

It is true that the events of the past few months have been disturbing, confusing, and heart-wrenching. How can we believe mankind is being defended while encountering such devastating things as hearing of a group of extremely young children has been massacred by a maniac or helplessly watching on as Mother Nature pummels through towns, leaving thousands of people homeless? The shared Sandy name just doesn’t seem like something that can be taken as anything more than ironic coincidence. But, what about what has happened in the aftermath? People have come together in the past few months in ways that we haven’t seen comparable since 9/11. Perhaps what the Sandys have shown us is this: mankind needs help. Mankind needs defending. We don’t have faith in things like we used to. Trust seems like such a rare treasure to find.  Hope is drowning beneath our disbeliefs and paranoia. Our society grows colder by the day. It shouldn’t have to take devastating events to bring us together as human beings. We can see the goodness in the world through all the heroic stories being uncovered each day and in all the support we provide to one another during difficult times like these. It’s time we didn’t let the “Pay it Forward Train” come to a sudden hault eight months down the line when the wounds of the past few months are no longer fresh in our hearts. Keep that engine rolling. It is the only thing that will defend mankind. In order to prevent any more Sandys from occurring, we must become our own Sandy.

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Our hands will join and our pockets will open to help rebuild the homes lost to the water and wind of Superstorm Sandy.

Our hearts will weep in constant memory of those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary. May God watch over those precious angels and their families now and forever.

God bless. Have faith.  Be strong. Do good.

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