Holidays are a time for compassion

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist

It is hard to believe that 2012 is coming to an end, and that we are in the middle of the holiday season. For those with young children, talks of Santa are likely occurring. Those with big families may have plans of homecomings, and more food than imaginable will be consumed.

The innocence of this time and the true meanings of why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas are rooted in our American culture. For many of us, it brings back memories of our first bike, sweet potato casserole, Christmas music and special programs at church.

This is typically a happy time that we should all enjoy by giving thanks and sharing gifts with each other. However, this can also be a difficult time for many of us as well.

For some, this is the first year without a loved one or a close friend. Everyone has to face death at some time, but we never seem ready to accept that someone is gone. It is especially hard during times when families traditionally come together.

People deal with death in many different ways, but it has taught me that life is very fragile. It pays to be ready for the day you may take your last breath. It is much more difficult to lose someone around the holidays, and more often than not, leaves us with more questions than answers, especially when it comes by the person’s own hand.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 90 percent of all people that commit suicide had an undiagnosed psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. A majority of suicides are spontaneous and give us no indication that the person had these thoughts. It’s not your fault.

We should also understand that drug addiction is not a choice, and that addiction can sometimes lead to death. It is true that one makes the decision to consume drugs, but drugs eventually consume them. And with accidents, although many are preventable, they still happen. We are only here a very short time, and death is a part of life.

As our population in Shelby County grows and the traffic increases this holiday season, please be compassionate to everyone. You will never know what everyone you meet is going through this year or what that person has to deal with at home.

It is much easier and it provides a much more pleasant environment to be cordial to others. That parking spot wasn’t that important, there are others. That wasn’t the last toy, Google it. It won’t hurt to say “sir” and “ma’am,” and the men out there could easily hold the door. Courtesy and compassion are contagious, and we should make those traits an epidemic.

Capt. Chris George is a commander with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He can be reached at