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Responding to tragedy with kindness

Pictured+above+is+a+memorial+for+the+victims+of+Sunday%27s+shooting+in+Las+Vegas.+Campus+life+editor+Leziga+Barikor+urges+readers+to+appreciate+life+and+to+make+an+effort+every+day+to+display+kindness+to+others.
Pictured above is a memorial for the victims of Sunday's shooting in Las Vegas. Campus life editor Leziga Barikor urges readers to appreciate life and to make an effort every day to display kindness to others.

Pictured above is a memorial for the victims of Sunday's shooting in Las Vegas. Campus life editor Leziga Barikor urges readers to appreciate life and to make an effort every day to display kindness to others.

TNS

TNS

Pictured above is a memorial for the victims of Sunday's shooting in Las Vegas. Campus life editor Leziga Barikor urges readers to appreciate life and to make an effort every day to display kindness to others.

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Campus Life Editor

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In light of recent news, I think it’s time I told you guys about Roger.

Oct. 1 ended in one of the worst tragedies in American history that I can actually remember. On 9/11, hearing the “where I was when” stories stuck with me throughout the years, but I wouldn’t want to dishonor the memory of that day by not admitting all I can remember is the “where my parents say I was” story.

The morning of Oct. 2, I was up early to go to Monday Morning Prayer with the UNI Salt Company. Checking the weather report before getting ready, I saw brief headlines but was running late, and it didn’t quite connect with me that there was something uniquely horrible in progress.

Arriving at the Curris Business Building, the details, as brief as they were known that Monday morning, made it clear to me that the worst mass shooting in American history had just occurred in Las Vegas. We spent most of that morning praying for the Las Vegas community.

Getting back to my dorm, I broke the news to my roommate before heading to class. It felt discombobulating to leave the room on that note. The fact that there was very little I could do to help at the time also didn’t sit right with me.

This is where Roger comes in.

This August while doing some Salt Company-related shopping at the local Cedar Falls Hy-Vee, my friend and I saw a man standing on the side of the parking lot. He was holding a poster board sign, and we both assumed the worst — a homeless man in need.

But that man was named Roger, and that sign said, “You Have Purpose” in big bold letters.

Without saying a word or in any way hailing cars, Roger’s sign seemed to clearly stop some people in their tracks as cars would slow down while passing him.

My friend said we needed to drive back, so we did. This is what I learned about Roger.

Roger is a retired Vietnam War marine veteran and not homeless.

He said one reason why he holds up that sign every fall is for his fellow veterans. He also holds it up for everyone who needs to hear that message.

He doesn’t ask for money and has turned down every cent offered to him. He said he felt called by God to hold up that sign and remind people that they are alive for a purpose, and he says he’ll stop when “the good Lord takes me home.”

So, in light of Roger’s remarkable display of kindness, I decided the best way my busy schedule would allow me to respond to the tragedy in Las Vegas was to display kindness. Not like I wasn’t already that person who tries to smile at every stranger I see in passing anyway, but in a more intentional way.

So here are some of my tips and things I’ve done that I have noticed seem to slow down the traffic of life in kindness:

1) Compliment someone that you usually see everyday

2) Introduce yourself to that stranger you always see at that same place at the same time

3) Dance like no one is watching because they are and they’re laughing with you

4) Invite people you don’t usually hang out with to join your plans

5) If you notice someone’s haircut, acknowledge it with a compliment (repeat if necessary)

6) If you overhear someone struggling at something you can help with, awkwardly offer your help (i.e. Rod Library printing struggles)

7) Tell someone you believe in them

Those are some things that I do, and, especially with number three, I have had a bit of success making some people smile.

Lastly, get your hopes up; for every new day, remember nothing has to stay the same.

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Responding to tragedy with kindness