The helpers and the light

This past week has been overwhelmed with outrage and despair. Between the audacious court ruling in the Stanford rape case, to the news coming out of Orlando this morning, I've been struck speechless. I've held off making any posts on social media because I am honestly having difficulty putting into words the heartbreak I feel over it all. And, just like with the similar news stories I've seen all too often in these past years, I have a tendency to see these reports and spiral. I will never grow numb to this.

Does this news affect me personally? At a macroscopic level, no, though there are arguments to be made that every terrible act in humanity should affect us all personally. We are responsible for the continuation of tragedies and injustices if we do nothing to stop it. I cannot help but feel it all deeply. The lack of justice -- the shattering acts of violence -- strike me hard and I swear, it rattles my bones. I feel the tragedies as if they are my own. So let me restate: We are responsible for the continuation of tragedies and injustices if we do nothing to stop it. Do something to stop it. Speak out, own the tragedies as if they are your own and do something, however small, to work toward ensuring that things like this never happen again. We owe it to ourselves to fight back against such horrors.

At times like these, I allow myself a moment of anger, a moment of sadness, a moment of contemplation and action, and then I unplug. The bombardment of news coverage can be suffocating. I'll read it all; I'll become more and more upset, feel more and more useless. So I do what I can. I grieve, I give in to the emotions, I do what I can, and then I close my computer. I will not let the darkness consume me. Not when there is so much light to be found, to be created.

For every article of tragedy, there emerges a story of heroics. A lesson from Mr. Rogers comes to mind every time something like this happens: "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.'"

The two Swedish students at Stanford. The first responders in Orlando, or the hundreds of people donating blood to those injured during the attack. Tragedies like these are meant to tear us all apart, yet it does just the opposite. We come together for strength, for comfort, for understanding. The darkness brings out the brightest lights in humanity. Open your eyes, look through the darkness, and see the galaxy of stars before you. Realize that you are part of it.

Don't allow yourself to drown in the news coverage. If you feel overwhelmed as I often do, step back. Hug someone. Do something kind, brave, and genuine. Find a way to feel safe, and look for the helpers. Look for the lights. Become one yourself.

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