A Note About Tragedy

My heart hurts today. It hurts a lot. Between bombings in Boston and Iraq, Syria’s unrest, North Korea’s threats and my own (slightly more trivial) problems, it’s been a heavy day.

In the midst of all this pain, the Internet has, overall, been a wonderful haven. Young people and news sources alike are improving every single day on how we handle bad news, how we spread news and how we treat other human beings.

We’re still so, so far from perfect.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my education regarding social justice, it is that we do not rank oppression. There is not a hierarchy of hurt or a scale for judging whose life matters more.

A loss of life is a loss of life. An act of terrorism is an act of terrorism. A tragedy is a tragedy – no matter how big or small, how close to home or far away.

Yes, there are people in this world who get twisted and stray from that golden goodness that is humanity.
Yes, there are people in this world who speak from places of distrust and anger and bad intent.
Yes, there are people in the world who absolutely refuse to be reasoned with intelligently.

But,
for every one of those people,

there are
five who smile at strangers on the subway just to spread that warm feeling of a good day,
10 who have buried judgement and hatred in an effort to brighten the lives of others,
and a hundred who run into the smoke and screaming and red in order to make sure that people are safe.

And if that doesn’t give you hope for humanity,
then I don’t know what will.

One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. is from a 1967 sermon:

“Modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish. And yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth like brothers and sisters.

So when you’re standing under a too-hot shower tonight,
feeling your own heartbeat tremble with today’s news,

send up a prayer.

You don’t have to be religious.
You don’t need a god (or a God).
You don’t have to speak.

Just send that prayer of good intent,
for safety and love and warm chocolate chip cookies
and good coffee and sunshine and
to people.

This means sending it to all people,
even the ones whose names you don’t know
and the ones whose names you want to forget.

Humanity is built from the actions of all people.
Don’t you want to put some good, golden gears
into this humming thing?

Don’t you want to be a part of the
humming, moving, dancing Earth
and know that you left it,
even if ever so slightly,
better than it was when you arrived?

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