There are no words . . .

that can adequately express our sorrow and concern six days after the horrific tragedy where 7 people were killed in the Grand Rapids community at the hand of a very troubled person. I cannot simply blog about philanthropy and the Foundation at this time as if nothing has happened. Doesn't seem quite right. Just like others, I have had many conversations with friends, family, colleagues and staff and everyone remains stunned by the events of Thursday, July 7th.

Paul Keep*, editor of The Grand Rapids Press, wrote a thoughtful column on Friday, July 8th which was a compassionate attempt to provide comfort in the aftermath of such a tragedy. The absolute vile that was spewed in the anonymous comments posted almost immediately once Paul's column appeared online was shocking. Much has been said and written about anonymous comments on media websites but the vitriol is beyond belief in this case. Frankly the nature of anonymous comments each and every day demonstrates ignorance and anger that is troubling.

I do realize that horrible things happen all the time and that this could have happened anywhere. I too was assaulted (not sexually) almost 40 years ago by a person who had a mental illness - diagnosed, not conjecture. While it was life threatening and took a long time to physically heal, I do have compassion for people with a mental illness and I know that the violence is rare. It was a random act and I happen to be walking up the stairs to my apartment at a time when the young man was agitated.

May we all heal and remember that human life is so precious and that our days on this earth are a gift. As a colleague said yesterday, "I've walked through the community and there is still a silence . . . a hush that shows how shocked we still are." Time to reach out and care for one another. My sympathies go out to all the loved ones of the families affected by this senseless act.

* Disclosure: Paul Keep is a member of the board of trustees of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.