The Healing Power of Community
On one hand I’m at a loss for words and on another hand all I want to do is verbally vomit all of my feelings onto paper in regards to the horrific, hate filled actions that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA over the weekend.
This week’s blog was supposed to be entitled, Gratitude and Networking, and while I’ll still share those thoughts in a few weeks, I feel it absolutely necessary for my own well being and to honor the 11 lives lost to talk about the infinite power of community.
I was born and raised Jewish and as an adult I’ve chosen to live a Jewish life as well. Simply put, I am proud to be an American, Jewish, Woman.
Judaism has been a huge part of who I am, what I believe and the way in which I’ve come to understand the power of networking, both personally and professionally. It wasn’t until I was a young adult in my mid-20’s that I realized that the way in which I grew up was not the norm. I grew up surrounded by people that would do anything to support my well-being and help me grow into the best version of Alyce. It didn’t matter if these people were actually related to me or not, all that mattered was that we were from the same community and there was and still is an underlying message of, “If you need something, we (as a community) are here to support you.”
This sentiment remains true to this day. I feel beyond fortunate that when and if I need any type of support I can lean on the various communities around me. Some of that is because of my upbringing and some of that is due in part to the work I’ve dedicated my life to, the unequivocal power of building, fostering and maintaining relationships. It’s for this reason that I do this work. I want everyone to feel like they can turn to a community when there are things to celebrate and of course when times are beyond tough and we come to the realization that we can’t and shouldn’t do it on our own.
At our core humans are very similar regardless of age, gender, nationality, race, socio economic status etc. I truly believe that what we’re all seeking and looking for is stronger relationships where we feel loved, heard and respected.
This post isn't about religion, nationality or gender, it’s about the human need for people to gather together when it’s time to celebrate life’s greatest moments and even more so the need to come together when a veil of darkness covers your world and you’re left feeling confused, angry and alone.
I spend countless hours networking each week and I do this not only because it’s my job, but because it enriches my life and gives me the opportunity to enrich others lives. Constantly being surrounded by various groups, some professional and some personal, I see time and time again that this is one way where people can let down their masks and be whole, perfect and incomplete. Yes, when you find the right space with the right people you’re able to shine brightly and still be accepted as incomplete since we’re all just ‘human becominings’.
No one is perfect and no one is better than anyone else. When we can all agree to accept one another and help guide one another towards more fulfillment and success, than this is the true power of community aka networking/building relationships.
While some may argue that there are no ‘silver linings’ after a mass shooting, I suggest that we take a step back to recognize the swift and powerful ways communities come together to share in grief, love and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Here are three ways I’ve seen the healing power of community in less than 72 hrs:
1. Community Vigils & Gatherings
In Denver, CO a community Vigil was held approximately 36 hrs after the horrific massacre took place and over 4,000 people showed up. Dark times are in fact hard, sad and scary and yet they provide openings for people to put all other bullshit aside and come together for the sake of healing and love.
We often hear, “Sorry I can’t make it, I’m too busy”. And yet what I find remarkable is that one person’s actions fueled in hate can motivate thousands if not millions to take action from a place of understanding, togetherness and peace.
One of the most moving things I’ve witnessed since Saturday’s event is the incredible support the American Muslim Community has shown towards the Jewish Community, not only in word and in action but also in financial support. According to this New York Times Article, Two Muslim organizations have raised more than $130,000 to help victims and their families following the shooting massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
I’ve been involved in multiple text chains with old friends over the past 72hrs to simply say, “Thank you for being a part of my life and helping shape who I am today.” I know texts usually get a bad name but in this example they a are powerful tool that quickly and efficiently bring people together across multiple states where the same message is conveyed back to me, “I’ve been thinking of you guys too and I’m grateful that we’re still in each other’s lives.”
In addition to reconnecting with old friends and family members via text there’s also scientifically proven evidence that texting can be a positive force. In a this article, The surprisingly positive power of texting, according to science, we learn that, “... texting can improve interpersonal relationships, help people deal with traumatic events and bridge intergenerational gaps. Research backs this up: A 2012 studyconducted by psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley found sending and receiving text messages boosted texters’ moods when they were feeling upset or lonely.”
3. Social Media as Vehicles for Fundraising and Awareness
For 24hrs immediately following this hate crime I watched as one friend, Monica Edelman, in California encouraged her community on Facebook to donate via her facebook page directly to the Tree of Life Synagogue. She set a goal of $1000 and as each hour passed she had to increase her goal because the generosity was pouring in at a rate she couldn’t believe.
Her actions have since been noticed by other news outlets including this article, AFTERMATH: SYNAGOGUE ATTACK Dozens of online fundraisers have sprouted since Saturday’s tragedy at Tree of Life. We’ve checked out the biggest ones. “...She started a Facebook fundraiser herself, which raised $80,000. “I thought I’d raise $1,000,” she said. “It just snowballed from there.”
I’ve also watched countless friends, some Jewish and some not, use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as platforms to share thoughts and ultimately raise awareness of what’s going on in their own communities to support people during these trying times.
Utilizing social media as an outlet to bring people together is one of the greatest advances of modern day technology and while there are many disadvantages to social media this is not one of them. Below are a few examples of friends posts that center around community, healing and awareness.
At the end of the day let’s remind each other that when we come together as a community, even during dark times, great things can and will transpire. We all have the opportunity to build our own communities or become part of communities even if we weren’t born into certain groups. When we lead our lives with a mindset of acceptance, love and understanding we move past hate and create new beginnings.
With immense gratitude for the various communities that support me,