Like so many people throughout the world, I have found myself struggling lately to make sense of things. Why is it that some people feel the need to hurt others, whether through hateful words or violent acts? How can any person justify a life lived to destroy instead of build, to hate instead of embrace, to cause pain instead of heal wounds? And why, why, do these painful moments, both big and small, seem to happen with such disheartening, alarming, and heartbreaking frequency?
Headlines scream of senseless acts of violence. Online commentary is shockingly vicious and unfeeling. The world seems to spin with constant criticisms. There is far too much hatred, unkindness, selfishness, and violence.
The day of the horrifying tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, I wept, my heart breaking. This past Monday, watching news of the bombings in Boston, I did the same thing again, my heart cracking anew at the pain and devastation wrought, once more, by senseless violence. In December, after the school shooting, my then-nine-year-old daughter said something amazingly astute:
"When your heart breaks, you choose what to fill the cracks with. Love or hate. But hate won't ever heal. Only love can do that."
We are all struggling to make sense of the terrible things that have happened lately. We hold our collective breaths, knowing this kind of thing will inevitably happen again. We want to believe that those who build each other up still outnumber those who choose to tear others down. We look for reason to hope that the balance hasn't forever tipped toward hatred. And, in the midst of our feelings of helplessness, we want to do something. Anything.
I have given myself a challenge and want to extend it to you.
This coming Monday, April 22nd, the one-week anniversary of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, let's tip the balance back toward goodness, kindness and love. Let's fill the cracks in our hearts with compassion. I plan to do a random act of kindness that day, I don't even know what yet, but in some small way I mean to make my tiny corner of this world a better place.
Let's counter random acts of violence and hatred with random acts of service and compassion.
It won't change the world. It won't make the pain and reality of all we have seen and experienced go away. It won't even stop future senseless moment of suffering. But in our small way, we will be demonstrating what the human race truly stands for, that we can be compassionate and caring.
As you are going about your day, look for an opportunity to help someone. It needn't be big or flashy, perhaps the person you help out won't even know it was you. Leave a generous tip for an overworked server. Offer words of encouragement to someone who needs it. Volunteer. Send a thank you note to your child's teacher. Give blood. Just do something. Make the world a better place. Make a difference in someone's life. That is what being human is all about.
(The Facebook "Random Acts of Kindness" event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/609978759029875/)