As you may or may not know, The Vessel is a New York City structure that has had to close numerous times because of suicide incidents. The staff has gone through intense mental health training and as of recently, you could not visit The Vessel alone. So why are people still dying there?
It's Not the Structure, It's the People.timelapse photo of people passing the street Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash
If you are at all familiar with the beautiful attraction that is the Golden Gate Bridge, then you may be familiar with a very tragic story that comes from it (unfortunately, one of many). In the 70s, a suicide jumper had left a note saying they would walk to the golden gate bridge and if a single person smiled at them on the way... then they would not jump. Needless to say, they jumped. Several people have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge over the years, but this one felt different because of that sense of hope this person had that someone might save him.
I was incredibly moved by this terribly tragic incident when I learned of it many years ago. I thought to myself.. how can the world be so cruel? How could it be possible that not a single person smiled at them?
Realistically speaking now, after working in various communities and most recently commuting into the city for work, I can now say for certainty that the world is that cruel. We don't smile at each other. If anything, we scowl. We do not connect with those around us; we keep to ourselves. We certainly do not help others out- especially when we get nothing in return. But why? Why have we become so disconnected and downright cruel?
Selfishness and Competition1. Less social media. media.giphy.com
In the last several years, I have personally seen an astronomical change in the way the people around me treat each other. This change has not been a good one.
I firmly believe that the unrealistic expectations we set on social media and the constant need to compete and do better than those around us is one of the fundamental problems with our society that makes us incapable of truly connecting with one another.
When was the last time you genuinely asked how someone was doing?
When was the last time you did something for someone other than yourself?
Are you happy with your real life? What about your virtual one?
"Be The Change"Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash
Also in recent years, I have seen such a disgusting romanticization of being kind to others. Like other trends online, it's not realistic. People aren't actually going around complimenting everyone they cross paths with. They just like to tell themselves that they're good people. Oh, the irony.
Or, a person will do one good thing and think they've met their "be kind" quota for the week ... or month... or year. That's not quite how it works either. Being kind is a 24/7 thing. It's a choice. It's something you have to learn to do and it may not always be easy, but it is so worth it.
Do Better.We Are Better Than This
For as long as I can remember, I have been a giver. I would give you the clothes off of my back if you asked. For as long as I can remember, I have been taken advantage of. I would do anything to make you happy- even if it hurts me.
The problem with having an incredibly big and open heart is more often than not, I get hurt. I get hurt because the people around me do not have the same level of compassion or selflessness that I do. Which is fine; not everyone is going to be at the same level, but the problem is that I genuinely feel like no one in the world around me cares for anyone other than themselves. It's lonely. It's exhausting. It's infuriating. I wish more than anything else that there was something I could do to make the people around me care. Not for me, but for the world.
Don't get me wrong- I'm not a perfect person. I make mistakes and I'm sure that I've done plenty of things to upset the people around me. But the difference is, I am constantly thinking about how what I say and do will affect others. I make (terrible) jokes to make the people around me laugh. I check in on my friends and I forgive even when I really shouldn't. The point is - I try really hard to make the people around me happier. That is something we all need to work on.
Life is so incredibly short. Why are we wasting it with negative energy?
We shouldn't have to close down beautiful structures because SO many people feel they have no other choice but to take their own life. We shouldn't live in a world where suicide isn't taken seriously until the person has passed.
We are all human and we are all constantly learning and evolving. We all make mistakes. However, there is absolutely no excuse for being a cruel person. Smile at the people you cross paths with. Complement people when you like something they're wearing or doing. Strive to be better. Strive to make the world a better place.
My biggest fear is dying before I have made as big of a positive impact as I possibly can. What's yours?
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