Wednesday, September 11, 2013
9/11: Is There Any Good Left in the World?
I don't watch the news. First, because I don't have television access, but also because I find the news depressing. Aside from a once in a while little 'feel good' slot about a puppy who rescues a family from fire, it's all just doom and gloom: murders, wars, economic collapse, corruption.
I half think maybe I'm just burying my head in the sand. Maybe I don't want to face what is happening in the world, and avoiding the news helps me avoid the truth. I also think I'm protecting myself from the negativity in the world and surrounding myself with positive experiences and thoughts instead. I'm not sure which is true; maybe both are.
I feel guilty for not knowing what is going on all the time. I feel guilty for learning about current events via friends' posts on Facebook. I feel guilty for not knowing.
But when I do take the time to read up on things, I feel guilty that I'm not involved or active. I feel guilty that I can't do anything to help. I feel guilty when I don't feel guilty enough. When everyone is talking about the horrors happening in other places, I feel guilty for not feeling so stirred up emotionally that I go into action. Then I feel cynical towards all the people who I perceive to be just paying lip service, when they also are not doing anything about the terrible things they are so supposedly passionate about. Then I feel guily all over again for judging them.
Today, however, there is just something I can't avoid thinking about or mentioning.
As everyone in the world knows, today marks yet another anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Never will I forget the moment I turned on my TV in my college dorm room and watched in horror as those planes flew into the World Trade Center. I'll never forget the worry I felt for my friends then living in NYC, and the fear I felt for the rest of the country, and the pain I witnessed in the tears of my Muslim friends who were just as horrified, if not even more so, at what was happening.
Every year since, the horrors have increased. It wasn't just what happened that day that still affects me; the aftermath has been a long twelve years of even more sadness. Two of my friends have lost brothers to the war. I prayed and worried over my cousin for the two years he was fighting. The whole world has been a different place because of what happened that day. It's something I can't avoid thinking about, especially on this day, every year.
I have nothing impressive to say about it. I have nothing thought-provoking to add to the millions of thoughts already out there, most of which are far more intelligent and knowledgeable than anything I could conceive of (and some of it a lot less). I just feel that it ought to be mentioned, and remembered. I'm not just sad for the USA; I am sad for the whole world. I am sad for the Muslim people who do not want this fight. I am sad for the innocent people who have died or been permanently injured. I am sad for the families on both sides of the war who have dealt with loss and grief. I am sad for the world our children have to grow up in, one that has been full of conflict and hatred for as long as they have been alive. I am sad that the gap between the West and the East has deepened and widened so far that reconciliation seems an idealistic fantasy.
There are so many sad things happening in the world that I cannot control. So much grief, pain, anger, hatred, and helplessness. So much that I can't face.
But there is so much good too.
The good always gets overlooked because it seems to weigh in so much lighter on the scale of Good and Evil, not worthy of the six o' clock news. Still the good is there just the same, humbly existing in its simplicity and unobtrusiveness.
In honour of all the people who have lost their lives trying to make the world a better place, not a guiltier, sadder one, I want to take a few moments to reflect on some of the good in the world. Even while the bad is always hovering on the flip side, desperately trying to overshadow it, the good is still firmly there, and it is what keeps us all going day after day.
Let's remember that:
People donate their precious spare time to people with special needs, often times for free.
Parents listen to their kids talk, read them books, and play noisy games with them, just to show they care.
Friends help friends out.
Organizations work hard to raise money for important causes. Some of those organizations are even honest.
People do both big and small things to help the environment.
Libraries still exist.
Sometimes, people love their enemies.
People forgive people who have hurt them.
Families celebrate births and birthdays.
People who need jobs get hired.
Children are adopted, and foster children are placed in loving homes.
People experiencing tragedy meet others in the same situation and make a connection.
Alcoholics and addicts get clean.
Some churches still show grace and acceptance and love.
Some non-religious organizations still show grace and acceptance and love.
Friendships are formed.
Kids feel proud of their achievements.
Adults feel proud of their achievements.
Public and private grants and scholarships make impossible things possible.
Companies act ethically.
People are generous.
Vulnerable people get protection.
Dogs and cats are returned to their owners.
Wallets are returned to their owners.
Missing persons are found safe.
Neighbours help neighbours.
Prisoners of war are released.
Oppressed people are freed.
Innocent people are acquitted.
Guilty people are sentenced. Sometimes fairly.
People open their homes to others who have lost theirs.
Babies say their first words.
Couples get married.
Couples stay married.
People in unhealthy or abusive relationships get out and start over.
Racial reconciliation happens.
Most schools have always been and will always be school-shooting-free.
Sick people get well.
Estranged family members reconnect.
People win the lottery.
Gay people are accepted and loved by their families and friends.
Homeless people find homes.
Schools are started in villages with no schools.
Hospitals are started in villages with no hospitals.
Clean drinking water is made available.
Students who studied pass their tests.
Students who didn't study pass their tests!
Honest people help strangers in need.
People change for the better.
Babies sleep through the night for the first time.
Children learn to be good citizens.
Airplanes land safely.
Car accidents are narrowly missed, to everyone's relief.
Rescue animals find good homes.
Peace treaties are signed. And followed.
People fall in love.
............the list goes on forever.
When we are powerless to do anything to impact the pain and suffering in the world at large, we still have the power to impact the world we are directly connected to... for the good.