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West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

First do no harm - a call for a culture of kindness

Personal, Hope, Kids, Neighborhood

Our flags are at half-staff and our hearts are broken.

There are no words to explain the horror of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. Nothing anyone can say can answer the many questions we all have about an event so awful, in a place of such innocence.

There were no explanations in Oak Creek, in Brookfield, in Aurora, in New York City...in Nazi Germany. There is no way to look at the slaughter of innocent children and teachers or anyone and not wonder about the kind of world in which we live.

I assure you that I have no answers and reading this blogpost will not help you understand anything. I personally use writing as a way to sort out my thoughts. I apologize that this will be woefully inadequate in shining a light on Friday's violence.

We all want to assign blame and legislate action. I believe that we cannot legislate away hate or anger or rage or evil. We can try and point fingers, but will that really create change that will prevent such tragedies? What is so frustrating about these horrible events is that we feel so incredibly helpless.

I think there's something we CAN do and it comes from one of the basic precepts taught to medical students - "First do no harm." We can look to ourselves to change the culture of America. We need to stop being a nation of those who point fingers and assign blame and start being a nation that looks for the best in our fellow man. We need to find opportunities to to be kind toward each other. We have to leave our cynicism and our negativity behind. We need to pay it forward, as long as "it" is something kind and helpful.

Here in Wisconsin, these past couple of years have been full of discord and unrest. We've spent so much time disagreeing with each other, arguing and taking sides, that we've forgotten how to be civil and how much we all have in common.

We are so quick to judge and then rush to anger. Let's try and embrace our families, friends, neighbors or maybe even those with whom we disagree - if not literally, then metaphorically. Let's create a culture where young people feel good about themselves and become inclusive so that nobody feels like an outcast, no matter their race, religion or beliefs.

First, do no harm. Imagine what we could do if this was our nation's call to action.

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