Be the Good in a World Gone Mad

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Les Miserables

For the past month, I have started and then stopped writing at least a dozen blog posts. I’ve opened my laptop with every intention of expressing my thoughts, only to leave it disheartened time after time after time. I’ve been silent, unsure of what to say, how to say it, or if it’s even worth saying. I’ve hated the idea of adding one more heated opinion into an already contentious space. I’ve hated the idea of being confronted, of having to confront. I’ve hated the idea of expressing myself as if I know it all, knowing full well that I don’t, that some days, I’m astounded at how little I actually understand. I’ve allowed fear to eat up the one good thing I feel I have to give back to the world: a voice. I’ve been a coward, and my writing’s gone rusty while I try to figure out how to respond.

Orlando and Dallas and, generally, the state of the world, have just about torn me apart. It seems that just as we begin healing, someone has to cause harm again. Cuts are made on top of scars on top of scars on top of scars. Bodies that have just gone cold have had more bodies thrown on top of them. Life, that delicate, beautiful, and vivid thing we all share is at every corner smothered out and pinned behind the glass some madman labels “A Statement.” Humanity is poisoning itself to prove its worth. And, if you’re like me, you’ve watched on from behind your phones or your computers and felt the devastatingly heavy weight of the thought, “What good can ever be done to end this?” like it’s the lid of a coffin closing on top of you.

This week, I’ve learned what it is that we can do.

We can stop being the same thing we were yesterday, the same cowering person who hides instead of running in to help. We can stop ripping apart the weak, the hurt, and the different, stop hosting pointless, heated wars on social media that do nothing for understanding and instead, polarize further. We can take a long, hard look at ourselves and stop doing bad things or cruel things, justifying our own callousness or conceit. We can be the good in a world gone mad, in a world that keeps doing and saying the same old things that just don’t work.

The world thinks forgiveness is a sign of weakness, that it validates bad choices and enslaves us. So forgive. 

The world thinks evolution botched up on humanity and we’re all destined to be animals. See us as something divine. 

The world thinks an eye for an eye is justified. Show mercy. 

The world thinks outrage is the only way to get anything done. Share love.

We are not a generation of Martin Luther Kings if our immediate reaction to bad things happening is to create chaos. We are not a generation of giants if we resort to violence and rage instead of love and empathy. We won’t do a single bit of good for anything or anybody if we continue to put ourselves in camps. turn ‘us’ into ‘them,’ and make space for hatred.

I can’t seem to say a single thing that isn’t cliche’ when it comes to tragedy right now. Just be good. Just be optimistic, better, and more empathetic. See brothers and sisters instead of enemies. Speak up and speak out, but speak kindly.

Please share more good. Please. We all need it.

You may also like

1 comment

  1. The dust on your laptop must have been pixie dust: “a substance or influence with an apparently magical effect that brings great success”.

    Thank-you so very much for this. Truly. I needed it.

    As a half-Native American visible minority (card carrying Indian).

    – In the first grade, I was ambushed by hidden boys who suddenly appeared and threw rocks at me. I got stitches. My father explained that I could show them I was the better man by not hunting them down and hurting them. Wise man my father.

    – School racists would beat on me until a teacher rescued me. Then one day, two teachers saw me getting beaten up by five boys: they turned and walked away. Such a “Darwin you DON’T matter” statement which I chose to refute. So I fought back all by myself and scared my attackers off.

    – High School…every body wanted to beat me up. I never had a fair fight in my life. Always several guys against me, or a sucker punch from behind. But I always won.
    Lao-tse once said: “A skillful warrior strikes a decisive blow and stops. He does not continue his attack to assert his mastery. He will strike the blow, but be on his guard against being vain or arrogant over his success. He strikes it as a matter of necessity, but not from a wish of mastery.”

    I quit high school because no one had my standards (even though not yet a member of the Church) and I didn’t want my standards to be eroded, so I found work on a reservation as a lumber jack where I found people who hated me because I was half-white.

    – No missionaries, no member friends…I joined the Church because God invited me. God knew that I would encounter…difficult people (i.e. racist) even in Church, and He knew I would NOT be able to deny it was the true Church even with the difficult people, if God invited me personally.

    – I have encountered racism in the Church, from a bishop refusing to send in papers so I could go on a mission; having my membership records sent out of the ward because they didn’t want me; to going to dances and not one female be willing to dance with me.

    – My skills and university training is for the entertainment industry; How many Native American Actors/writers/directors/producers etc. can YOU name?

    – The publishing industry is ALSO racist.

    – I have been harassed by police for: Running while Indian; Walking while Indian; Standing while Indian and Breathing while Indian.

    – Police where I live kill Indians.

    So yes…Minorities have a lot of frustration because THE SYSTEM DOESN’T WORK FOR US.

    NOBODY stands up for my rights.

    NOBODY listens when I try to stand up for my own.

    The constitutional rights and laws in place to protect people don’t protect minorities when the system is racist.

    But ADDING to the hate never makes anything better. It only makes it worse.

    Like you said, Ari:

    “We can stop being the same thing we were yesterday, the same cowering person who hides instead of running in to help. We can stop ripping apart the weak, the hurt, and the different, stop hosting pointless, heated wars on social media that do nothing for understanding and instead, polarize further. We can take a long, hard look at ourselves and stop doing bad things or cruel things, justifying our own callousness or conceit. We can be the good in a world gone mad, in a world that keeps doing and saying the same old things that just don’t work.

    The world thinks forgiveness is a sign of weakness, that it validates bad choices and enslaves us. So forgive.

    The world thinks evolution botched up on humanity and we’re all destined to be animals. See us as something divine.

    The world thinks an eye for an eye is justified. Show mercy.

    The world thinks outrage is the only way to get anything done. Share love.”

    These are the reminders I needed, because it IS hard to remember such things in the midst of the cyclone of horrific events.

    God has given you many gifts, Ari. You are a blessing. Let your voice resonate.

    You are the good in a world gone mad.