Whenever something tragic happens, the focus is usually on the perpetrator—who he is and why he did what he did. And while those are important questions to answer, what I keep coming back to are the people who lost their lives. The victims.
I’ll be honest, I hate the word victims. I mean, I get it, it’s not inaccurate and headlines only have so much space. But I hate how it reduces vibrant humans, defining them by how their lives ended.
Something everyone in the medical or psychology world (including my undergrad program in speech-language pathology) learns is to put personhood first. Instead of a “stutterer,” it’s “a person who stutters.” Instead of centering on the person’s condition or disorder, you center on their humanity.
And so in every tragedy, I try to center on the people who were victimized. I read their names. I learn who they were, that this person liked to hike and that one had two kids. It doesn’t change anything, of course. They’re still gone, and their families will remain irreparably broken. But it’s one small thing I can do to honor them, to refuse to let them be a number, a statistic of tragedy.
The people who were recently killed in church were people who thought they’d have a tomorrow, as we all do. They were thinking about Sunday dinner and worrying about work or school the next day. They didn’t know they wouldn’t have a next day.
So I don’t look away. I can’t. I look at their pictures and I read about them. It’s painful. Of course it is. But they deserve that small respect I can give them, a moment to acknowledge their humanity and mourn their loss.
If you want to join me in honoring those killed in Sutherland Springs by learning their names, you can read about them here.
If you’ve been anywhere near a tv or the internet lately, you know there have been a ton of new shows premiering this fall. But how’s a person to figure out which ones to watch? Well, you could quit your job and watch one after another until you run out of money to pay your rent/mortgage and have no food to eat.
Or you could just let me make suggestions. Cause I’m helpful like that. For me, a few new shows stand out from the rest. Let me break down my top three for you. (All air times are in EDT. Cause, East Coast girl here.)
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World – charming, heartfelt dramedy (think Brothers and Sisters meets Eureka or Parenthood meets Good Witch)
Tuesdays at 10 pm on ABC; Hulu
Premise: guy who can’t get his life together ends up with the power to save the world. It’s a common enough premise but that’s because it’s a good one. Add the fact that the lead is Jason Ritter (who legit proved his acting capabilities to me in Parenthood) and I was willing to give it a shot.
What I love: I seriously underestimated this show. Fifteen minutes in and I was already telling my husband he needed to watch it. It surprised me with nuance and warmth. The humor is honest, the characters relatable. As others have pointed out, the mystical black woman as spirit guide can be a cliché, but the creators have promised they have given the character more depth and plot that will ensure they avoid cliché land, and Kimberly Hébert Gregory absolutely sparkles in the role. Add Joanna Garcia Swisher (who has that Sandra Bullock-esque quality of being likable in every role she tackles) and I’m so invested already.
The Brave – military drama with a strong, complex ensemble (think NCIS meets Chicago Fire or Quantico meets The Closer)
Mondays at 9 pm on NBC; Hulu
Premise: a Special Ops squad and a team of analysts work together to protect and defend American citizens. Unlike a lot of military action dramas, this one shows both sides of the spectrum, giving the analysts their own recognition. And each character has complexity and a backstory that unfolds throughout.
What I love: you mean besides the fact that there’s a female sniper? While there are certainly some cowboy moments, this show stands out from other cop or military shows in the way it focuses on tactics and intel. Both sides of the team have to be adaptable, making quick decisions to achieve the best outcomes, instead of just bursting in with guns blazing. The head of the ops team isn’t your usual over-the-top alpha male (thank goodness), but a perceptive leader who values his team, and the director of the analysts is an intelligent, decisive woman with her own tragedies to process. There’s a lot to explore, so I’m interested to see where this show goes.
The Good Doctor – emotionally complex medical drama (think House meets Switched at Birth or The Night Shift meets Monk)
Mondays at 10 pm on ABC; Hulu
Premise: as he begins a new job, a surgical resident’s autism and savant syndrome provide both advantages and disadvantages, helping him see the world in a unique way while also making it difficult for him to communicate and understand human behavior.
What I love: I was entirely unprepared for the way this show would casually reach in and rip my heart out. In my experience knowing people with autism, this show is one of the few to express it accurately (although, I have to point out, autism is a broad spectrum that varies widely in characteristics). This protagonist, played brilliantly by Freddie Highmore, is no emotionless, robotic character, but a young man who clearly feels deeply while having difficulty processing or expressing those emotions. The struggles of his past, revealed through flashbacks, provide context and show more of his humanity, while the present day storyline shows him adapting to life in the medical world. He’s underestimated, misunderstood, wholehearted, and brilliant, exactly the kind of character I want to root for.
There you have it, folks. Three solid options that range across genres and styles. What do you think? What new shows are you watching this fall?
I’ll be honest: motivational/inspirational quotes make my eyes roll back so far I can practically see my brain. But I do appreciate authentic encouragement. And in this world, in this current atmosphere, there’s a lot of negativity and frustration. If you’re craving a moment of honest encouragement, this is to you, from me.
Holy potatoes, there’s a lot of yelling these days, isn’t there? People are angry—some understandably frustrated, some just filled with hate. They’re yelling at people for what they do and what they don’t do, for speaking up and for staying silent. And in the midst of all that noise and chaos, it can be difficult to figure out your place in a world of a thousand loud opinions, all of them drowning out your own thoughts.
But you do have a place, a purpose. There’s a space in this intense, noisy world only you can fill, a contribution only you, with your unique mix of skills, can offer. Maybe you don’t know yet what that contribution could be or even what those skills are. Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there’s no shame in still trying to figure things out.
It’s okay if you don’t wage wars on Twitter. And there’s great beauty in not sharing long Facebook posts about your opinions. But if you feel compelled to address an issue close to you, that’s awesome too. It’s your choice. It belongs to you and no one else.
Your worth is not measured by how much you engage or disengage. The strength of your voice is not dependent on how loudly you can yell but by the ideas you express and the methods you choose for sharing. Sometimes a whisper at the right moment can be more powerful than a hundred people screaming. Sometimes the greatest impact you can make is not by influencing crowds but by investing in one person.
But you can’t know your purpose without knowing who you are. And you can’t know who you are until you believe that you matter.
Your life, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, is an incredible opportunity that was handed to you. You didn’t ask for or earn your existence, but here you are. You have changed the world simply by existing. How you make an impact beyond that, well, it’s up to you.