Like so many, I am heartbroken by the recent events in Manchester. It was almost a year ago I wrote those same words regarding Orlando. Trying to comprehend the reasoning and calculated malice that goes into these acts of terrorism is enough to make you lose faith in the human race. Thinking about the innocent lives lost and the countless lives affected by these tragedies can make a person fear the world. And when the world and all of its pitfalls are so easily found on every media outlet it can become overwhelming. There is a flood of negativity with every swipe of our finger and the good-news stories seem much more difficult to find. There is an obvious sense of urgency in our society to fix these problems that stem from hate and anger, but so much uncertainty on how to achieve it. And while we hope for safety and we hope for answers, our hope is laced with bewilderment and fear.
From my earliest memories, I can remember always being afraid: afraid of getting lost, afraid of earthquakes, afraid of war, afraid of everything. As I grew up, the anxieties only increased and as an adult I have worked extremely hard to keep my fears in check. Now living with this disability, I find a lot of my fears surrounding personal safety are magnified. Every elevator I enter on my own raises the question of how I would escape the 2nd, 3rd or 15th floor in an emergency. When I drive I think of scenarios where the extra 60 seconds it takes me to get out of my car could be 60 seconds too long. I worry about every stranger I pass when I am on my own and I remain incredibly vigilant of my surroundings – all of the time. And as I sat on the floor of a very empty parking garage last week, without a cell signal or a wi-fi connection, I could only hope that the person who would find me was good and kind.
After my incident in the parking garage and thinking more and more about the current state of the world, I can say that I now strongly believe that we, as humans, are predominantly good. There is a lot of love in this world. In all of my thoughts about this, I was reminded of a quote from Hugh Grant in the movie Love Actually that I think is incredibly relevant right now.
“It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends…If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
I do honestly believe that it is everywhere. And no, it’s not necessarily newsworthy – but maybe that is a good thing. Maybe that means that love is so prevalent in our communities and in our lives that we don’t need to see it flashed before us like the never-ending reels of bad news. Love can be simple or it can be complex beyond measure. Either way, it is strong, it is important, and it can stand alone. I don’t think we could say the same for hate. Hate needs help.
What if, like love, hate was just hate? What if there were no physical tools to facilitate the progress of the plans devised from hate? I truly believe that given solely their bare attributes, love would overcome. Without the tools of destruction, we would not be as afraid of those who are angry and those who want to cause harm because those that love would outnumber them. Love encourages people to band together and defend one another in a positive way. It brings out kindness, compassion, and a sense of belonging. And in the aftermath of any tragic event, you can see that through the devastation, cities, communities, families and individuals rise above. We heal because we have faith that life is worth living and that there are people worth living for. We heal because we love. We heal because those that are good, are in the majority.
I don’t think it is realistic to believe that we will ever make sense of the hatred in this
world and it is sad that its actions leave such an impact; it is sad that we get tangled up in
the negativity due to the ever-present reminders of it. It is sad that the first thought in my head when I fell out of my car was “I hope the person who finds me won’t want to hurt me” – it is sad because there are so many more people out there that want to help. Yet I was scared.
I think the love in our lives gets taken for granted and we forget that it is just as relevant and far more widespread than all of the anger and hate. We put our guards up out of fear and jump to conclusions about so many. It is important to remember that most of us are just “fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends” trying to journey through this life in a good way. We need to believe that our surrounding community and most of the world is in it for the greater good. We, as adults, need to set an example for the next generation that is less skeptical and more inclusive. We need to somehow learn how to live without fear and continue to spread love in response to hate. Life is too short to be unkind, hold grudges and deny (to give or receive) a helping hand.
Mr. Fred Rodgers summed up how to handle fear in the world quite well and it’s all about looking for the love. I don’t think I could end this post in any better way than with his quote that has been making the rounds on my newsfeed lately.
“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.