Once again, I walk around with a sense of heaviness that religiously accompanies the horrific events that have become all too familiar these past few years. I can identify the feeling just as quickly as the pang of a heartbreak, the tension that rises during rush hour traffic, the stress that fills a week of finals; it's become a part of life. The human race has always known hard times, but it's needless to say that (at least in my lifetime) things have never looked as grim as they do now. Hit after hit of catastrophic headlines have left my brain immune to shock, my heart tired, and words of condolence repetitive. Thoughts and prayers are handed out like Christmas cards to every act of devastation that reaches our ears, spread so thinly my mind can't even keep up with where my attention should be pointed to next.
It isn't long before statements of shock over at least 59 casualties are replaced on my timeline by political agendas, all before families can even begin to grieve. It's like we feed off of it. That same sense of hopelessness in me that does not know how I can help is supposed to somehow feel fulfilled by pointing fingers and blaming those that disagree with my morality. And then just as quickly, we forget. Until another attack presents itself to the masses, we will forget the pain of countless loved ones that are going through the unimaginable. Those same voices currently proclaiming that their message of virtue cannot wait a single moment will later tuck away their preaching sermons until the media says they are needed again. We will move on to the next tragedy because these days there is always another tragedy that needs our attention.
It sounds as if I am attacking those that are just trying to make sense of the evil in our world, but really I'm just trying to wrap my head around it myself. I wonder if definitively proclaiming a man who took the lives of at least 59 innocent people a terrorist will fix anything. I wonder if simply banning more firearms when we fail to acknowledge the demographic pattern behind these attacks will make them cease. I wonder how far the dollar I give to the homeless man on the street will go. I wonder if sending immigrants who have resided in this country their entire lives away will help address the fact that the pathway to citizenship in our country is unjust and flawed. I wonder if debating over whether a flag should be stood for or not will eventually lead to a discussion about the value of black lives in the United States. I wonder if all of these temporary band-aids that we continue to place on bigger problems are really making any difference.
And while I sit still and wonder all these things, there are people living an apocalyptic reality in Puerto Rico, there are still volunteers needed to aid earthquake victims in Mexico. And with no real money to donate, no real way to physically be present for these people, I remain feeling helpless.
For me, to grow and mature has meant to realize that the world is permanently broken, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot fix it. The next consequential question is, should I just give up?
No. I have decided to challenge my jaded soul to try again by looking at life's current existence as I would a friend if they became seriously ill. Although I know there is nothing I can do to heal my friend, that does not mean that I turn my back on them. That does not mean that I close myself off and make their issue my own. All I can do is give my attention to the friend in need, ensure that others who can help give their attention as well, refuse to make this about myself, and no matter how hard it is to stick around, be present. Because even though you can't always heal someone (or something) that is sick on your own, you can make a difference.
With that being said, no matter how overwhelming it is to consume, I encourage others to continue to fill my feed with the hardships of life, continue linking nonprofits, rallies, petitions, the numbers of local representatives, and hashtags that encourage dialogue. I encourage you to keep praying, to be a sympathetic human being with selfless intentions, to keep reading, keep writing, keep talking. And when you can do more, do more.
It is so easy to believe that the world is full of darkness, but it is consoling to know that there is always more light. Because when one terrorist attacked the Manchester Arena in May, millions were raised at a benefit concert for victims by a group that believed in the power of love. Because when a hurricane hit Texas last month, a divided nation became one with millions rallying together to help their neighbors. Because on the night of October 1st, there was one shooter, but there were countless more who loaded their cars with victims, making various trips to the hospital, and hundreds of blood donors from around the world who lined up for hours to give what they could. Because your day may be filled with darkness, but you can choose what to do with it to create light.