Dec. 14, 2015 Follow-up: Three years ago on December 14 as a reporter for a local newspaper, I was in Simsbury, Connecticut to cover a morning press conference where Richard Blumenthal, a United States senator from Connecticut, was slated to make an annoucement during the 3rd Annual Heroes & Hounds Military Working Dogs Drive. Organized by the Simsbury animal control officer, the drive was a holiday collection effort for military canines and their handlers serving in war zones. The senator was to make an announcement about legislation to strengthen protection and support for military working dogs.

The announcement was delayed as town officials waited for a television news crew slated to attend. Word came that the news crew had been diverted en route to Simsbury to a school shooting in the southern part of the state. Sen. Blumenthal went ahead with his announcement then quickly left. We were told he was headed to the scene down state. It turned out that a gunman had made his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown where he murdered 20 children and six educators.

It was a bone-chilling day that left many feeling helpless. Ann Curry, then a newswoman for NBC, subsequently suggested that people respond by performing twenty-six acts of kindness in memory of the lives taken at Sandy Hook. Below is the commentary I wrote at the time about the healing power of acts of kindness which I described as simple and doable. Despite the depth of the Sandy Hook tragedy and the tragedies that have followed, I still believe in the power of kindness and that good can overcome evil. – JB


 My original piece is below.

Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett 009


Rather than become immobilized by a polarizing debate on gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy beyond words in Newtown, Connecticut, “twenty-six acts of kindness” speaks to the power of the individual and the healing power of good over evil. NBC newswoman Ann Curry suggested over time that everyone perform twenty-six acts of kindness, large or small, in memory of the twenty first graders and six educators massacred by a gunman at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.


It is far from the first time horrific acts of violence have shocked the nation. After each one, arguments rage about gun control. In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, the debate has expanded to society’s glorification of violence on television and in video games, whether or not armed guards should be placed at every school, whether or not teachers should be armed and a twenty-four hour competitive news cycle that makes perpetrators of outrageous crimes larger than life. Yes, it is important for those discussions to continue and solutions to be sought.


But in truth, outrageously violent crimes have happened so many times in recent years that it has left people to wonder if we are powerless to stop such horrors, to effectively mold public policy, to become better as a society. The answers to those questions remain to be seen.


However, we are not powerless to make our own choices, to control our own behavior. We can change the television channel, we can decide what our discretionary money is spent on and most of all we can, each day, decide how we are going to go about living our lives. We can smile, we can say a pleasant hello, we can mail a greeting card, we can hold a door for someone, we can let someone step ahead of us in a check-out line, we can allow another driver into a line of traffic, we can praise a job well-done and we can say thank-you. There is so much we can do to honor the lives lost in a healing and uplifting manner.


Twenty-six acts of kindness – simple and doable.