Can one word or one smile change someone's world?
Can a friendly face bring much-needed hope to someone who is suffering?
Can a little effort from one person save someone else's life?
These are questions that, in my opinion, we as a society are failing to ask ourselves.
I just finished watching the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, which is based on the book written by Jay Asher. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the show, as many people have different opinions about the story it portrays. However, I am not here to argue about the show. I simply want to talk about the message that I got from this story, it is the same message that I got when I read the book when I was in middle school and now watching the show in college.
The message that I believe is so brilliantly portrayed in this story is that our actions and words, no matter how small or unimportant they may seem, matter, and that standing on the sidelines watching mistreatment happen without saying something puts you in the wrong too.
You see, as a society, we have been doing a very poor job of taking care of each other. We go through each day so focused on ourselves and what is going on in our own lives that we forget to acknowledge those people around us. We forget to make a point of being kind to each other: common courtesy and human decency have gotten lost somewhere in the commotion of daily life.
This is a very dangerous way to live our lives.
By allowing ourselves to forget about other people and their worth, we become a society of loneliness. We forget that although we may be hurting or going through a lot, we are not the only ones. We begin to ignore people and say things without thinking, unknowingly damaging people in the process.
We have forgotten what it feels like to show compassion and empathize with other people. We have forgotten what it feels like to make someone smile; the pure joy that you can feel in your soul just by seeing someone else feel a little less pain.
We have also become a society of people who do not like to take responsibility. We have become cowardly, afraid of what people will think of us in every decision that we make.
I am certainly guilty of it, we all are.
We see injustice all of the time, and yet we rarely step up to do something about it. This is because to stand up for someone who is being hurt, we must step completely out of our comfort zones. To stand up for someone being wronged, we must put ourselves in the line of fire. We must be willing to be wronged alongside them in order to save them.
This is one of the hardest things for us, as human beings, to do. We do not like being uncomfortable, and going out of our way to help someone who is being hurt and is disliked, is uncomfortable. It is scary to risk your comfort for someone else, but it is so important.
I am thankful to have read this story during a time when I was suffering, and I am thankful that more people are seeing it now.
Is it uncomfortable to watch? Yes.
Is it surrounding a subject that many times we would rather not deal with? Yes.
This is exactly why it is so needed. We have been doing a horrible job of taking care of one another. We go through life treating each other badly and are afraid to ask the tough questions. We must stop being afraid of people and their pain and start acknowledging that this is a very big problem. We have to start making sure that everyone knows that they have someone to talk to. No one should ever feel like their problems or feelings are a burden.
We must start holding each other accountable when we treat others poorly.
We must start loving each other better.
We must start treating each other better.
We must start paying better attention.
Next time you find yourself having a bad day, try to go out of your way to be nice to people; do your best to not allow your pain to make you treat others badly.
I challenge all of us, myself included, to take action next time you see injustice occurring. Whether that be to go and sit with someone who is completely alone or to step in front of someone being put down and stand up for them.
You never know whose life you may save with just a small action of love.