I am a therapist in private practice working with people of all ages and all issues. People struggle for all kinds of reasons. But what bothers me the most is the struggles brought on by the hurt and pain caused by others.

There is so much of it today. Children hurt by other children. Schools, once safe places for children with issues at home, no longer safe. Support, once provided by community, no longer there because, instead of helping, we judge. So, no longer do we help others with the issues that they face that create the trauma that people suffer with, but we compound it with our judgments and treatment of them.

I feel lucky that I never had to drag my children hundreds of miles across dangerous territory to unknown circumstances because the danger at home and in my community was greater than the fear of what I may face ahead. My heart goes out to immigrant mothers who had to face that decision and to those who cannot understand that decision because their homes and communities have always been safe.

I remember my school being a happy place, where the greatest worries were that someone ate paste, or a teacher was too strict. My school did not resemble a prison with everything locked down to keep danger out. I wasn’t attacked by friends, and I felt safe and supportive.

Schools in our community are asked to do so much today with so little resources to do it. We deride them for not teaching enough while expecting them to take care of mental and physical health issues they should not have to take care of. They cannot address all the ills of our community and still teach our children to meet standards. The hate and judgment that taints our society has bled over into the places once considered safe and sacred.

Instead of strong leaders who can calm our troubled waters, we have the opposite. Too many seek to perpetuate hate and the issues that cause it rather than seek to find solutions. Those who once sought to unite us, seek to divide us for their own gain.

Finding solutions and putting aside our own issues to help can be emotionally exhausting and exasperating. But it can also be how real change happens. It is the most rewarding thing that I have ever done.

It is so easy to blame people for their poverty, ill health and difficulties rather than work to find solutions. I know because I strive to help people to find solutions every day.

It sounds trite but the solution is with each of us. Small acts of kindness to help rather than judging, blaming or shaming. Working together and trying to understand each other’s struggles rather than rushing to point fingers and throw stones. Compassion rather than hate.

Together as a nation, state and community, we do so much. Divided, we all fall. I am never more inspired than when a community comes together to solve issues and support each other. I hope we can come back to that rather than continue down the path of judgment, hate and everyone out for themselves.

Tracy Richards lives in Fair Haven.

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This is such an important topic and so well addressed. Just last night in my women's Bible study, several women made the point that it seems like so many people talk past each other these days instead of really listening with respect to another person, even if their point of view is opposite our own. This piece should be discussed at family dinner tables. I know it will be discussed with my teens this evening.

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