by Karl Kurtz
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora (not far from NCSL's Denver office), my colleague, Ed Smith, editor of ncsl.org, has written an eloquent, thoughtful, engaging guest commentary for the Denver Post, "Colorado needs an act of kindness."
If we want a more compassionate community, a place where those approaching the ragged edge of madness might be noticed and helped before it's too late, don't look at the statehouse or White House. Look in the mirror.
We have lost our sense of community, of oneness. Our deep partisanship over public policy issues — taxation, environmental regulation, and yes, gun control — is spilling over into a nation split into camps. Not only are the people we disagree with wrong about policy issues, they're wrong about life. They are the other.
The commentary concludes:
We can push back with a determined effort to be more compassionate, more considerate, more civil people. While we all quite naturally first think of the welfare of our own family, we can will ourselves to think of our larger community as family and treat them accordingly. Open a door for someone with an armload of groceries. Stop on the bike path and help change a tire. Stop judging someone solely on how they look or how they're dressed.
I've been called a lot of things during a professional life in a newsroom and working in support of state government. Naïve is not one of them. But look at it this way: Even if an act of kindness doesn't change the world, you'll feel better about yourself.
Try it, Colorado. We've lost so much already. It can't hurt.
Ed also appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation today to elaborate on his commentary and take listeners' questions.