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Our view: Compassion from tragedy

It was, in many cases, a year of headaches and hand-wringing over what wasn’t being done or what was to come.

Work on almost every north-south traffic artery in McHenry County at the same time led to frustrated motorists. Continued inaction by state lawmakers led to Illinois being in a worse financial quagmire than it was last year – and little hope for improvement on that front.

Nonstop election coverage saturated the airwaves for 10 months, with politicians and pundits shouting their views at every turn. It didn’t stop with the Nov. 6 victory by President Barack Obama, as it was replaced by finger-pointing over who was to blame for the looming Jan. 1 “fiscal cliff” that the country still might fall off.

But those largely were insignificant compared with the numerous heartbreaking moments of 2012.

Mother Nature’s wrath brought a rash of tornadoes in March and a devastating summer drought. Superstorm Sandy left hundreds dead and billions of dollars in damage in its wake.

Mass shootings again horrified the country. The July 20 shooting during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” left 12 dead, including Crystal Lake native and Navy Petty Officer John Larimer.

On Dec. 14, a gunman killed his mother, then headed to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where he killed 20 children and six educators before taking his own life.

Yet still, through the rhetoric, hard times and sheer horror, we also were afforded glimpses of unparalleled hope and kindness. We saw neighbors near and far providing comfort and assistance to those going through difficult – and in some cases, unimaginable – struggles.

We saw love and hope in the actions of Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto and other educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, who gave their lives trying to protect students. And the outpouring of support for that community has been nothing less than awe-inspiring.

We saw love when thousands lined the streets of Crystal Lake to pay respect for fallen Marine Capt. Nathan R. McHone. When Larimer was killed, the Crystal Lake community rallied to support the local family.

And we saw compassion last weekend in McHenry, when the community turned out en masse to donate to families and employees displaced by a Dec. 20 fire.

We have (sadly) come to expect tragedies of this magnitude. But we’ve learned that, in the face of such horror, the more trivial matters and problems of the world fall away as the innate response of grace and compassion emerges.

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