This morning, I woke up heartsick and weary. I know I’m not the only one. I made the mistake of opening twitter and found another person had died from the shootings in Dallas and many more on the opposite side of the world from another suicide bombing. I briefly considered calling this day a loss and going back to bed. There have been too many deaths this year. Each day seems to bring more. Is it more than last year? I don’t know, but it feels like it.
Personally, aside from being heartsick and weary, I haven’t been hurt by these tragedies. None of my family and friends have been either. I pray that doesn’t change. But in this day and age, it’s impossible to not have lingering ‘what ifs’ haunting you. That person is working in a city that extremists are encouraging as a target. This person is a student at college. What if. What if. What if.
It’s enough to drive you mad. And make you feel so very helpless.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” – Mister Rogers
After any tragedy, this quote often appears. And it’s true. The majority of people, when faced with terrible events, want to help, to make things better. But often, unless the community in mourning is your own, there is very little you can do. You can donate money to help the victims . You can donate money to help those helping the victims. So you do that, then sit back and still feel heartsick and weary.
It’s currently the Year of Mercy, although it certainly doesn’t feel like it. But perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps, rather than hiding under the covers and feeling helpless, we can do something about it.
We cannot make what has happened all right, but we can start working for good in the world around us. Smile at the strangers who pass you on the street, even the ones who look like they may bite your head off if you do. Make eye contact with the homeless person on the corner at the stoplight. (If you’re feeling really radical, roll down the window and say hello.) Strike up a conversation with the cashier/waiter/fellow customer. Say please. Say thank you. Invite a friend out for coffee. Invite the neighbors over for a potluck. Donate blood/food/money/clothing to local charities. Volunteer at those same charities, even if it’s only a one-time thing. Hold the door for someone. Let someone hold the door for you. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Find what you are called to do and do that with as much joy and gumption as you can muster. Put some beauty back into this world.
Am I naive in saying this? Perhaps. But in the end, stricter laws and tighter security won’t save the world. It won’t stop us continuing on this seemingly endless, downward spiral. To paraphrase Dostoevsky, only beauty can do that. It won’t fix the terrible hurt that has come through too many people being senselessly killed. But perhaps it will take away just a little bit of the heartsick and weary feeling that’s so prevalent nowadays. If you can do that for just one person, you’ve helped.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. – Mother Teresa
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. – Mother Teresa