If aliens, thousands of years from now, looked over the data we place on the internet each day–I think they would all agree upon the theory that the world ended in 2016.
“Look at all of those Facebook posts,” they would scoff empathetically at our misery.
“The tweets,” they would say. “They literally destroyed themselves from within.”
And there, within the reflection of us, will lay pessimism alongside fear, anger, and hatred. Gone will be our great inventions. Our ability to forget the shackles of our feet and fly. To break barriers and tear assumptions asunder. Oh no, we did nothing. We have no grace. Humans are barbarians. Cannibals.
Our literature, having vanished in the language of the internet and burned in the last remaining libraries, will erase the journey and exploration of our identity. Our ability to suffer, and still discover the brightness on the other side of it all–lost.
The beauty of our world–of how nature (and us with it, because we are not separate) works seamlessly. Of how the earth provides life and heals the wounds of a somewhat parasitic, but also symbiotic relationship. The miracles of the world and our ability to explain it through science.
I am not writing this to negate the tragedies of this year–because there are many, and my heart is filled with the reality of them. But, I am writing because there is still hope, and because I will never let go of my defining trait as a relentless optimist. Because humanity has always been this way–chaotic and ambitious and hateful and loving and fearful and brave. Vengeful and merciful. Violent and peaceful. We are not absolutes. And we are ultimately still in a better place than before; though, we may slip backwards from time to time, we can progress.
It is the rhetoric of media and the problem of sensationalism feeding on negativity, that is fueling the ideology of a world on the brink of collapse. The spreading of lies and biased data, social media included, can be a festering wound on our psyche–a despondent thought process encouraging ignorance. We create arguments instead of discussions and grow narrow-minded. We absorb instead of question (did we learn nothing from Socrates?). But we are so much more than that. There is still good in this world, and we still can be good. I am tired of seeing my friends and family grow cynical because the world is painted as being such a hopeless and dark place in the news. We don’t need cynicism. It’s not going to help us. But cynicism and pity are also easier when goodness requires the integrity of making the right choices “when no one is watching” (C.S. Lewis). Goodness can be uncomfortable and hard because it requires us to find solutions to its counterpart. It requires values and morals.
It’s discouraging that you have to Google “Good News” to find news with a positive impact, and funny how there is a “Good News” section because the “Bad News” is simply glorified and synonymous with Breaking News or just News, even (below, I have linked GOOD news).
Perhaps, one day, we will be so sick of the sensationalism of violence and despondence, that we will again find gratitude and promise in the small things that build toward something greater.
Recently, one little experience had a profound effect on how I view things currently. I was working at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, talking to visitors about the design and anatomy of birds. One day, an elderly man and his son came by the table to look at the display. I smiled and began to show them the wings of different birds–the little ruffles that make owls silent in flight, the tiny hollow bones–but paused when I realized the son was translating what I was saying to his father in Portuguese. I smiled. Yay, culture!
“Did you come up from Brazil?”
The father nodded, and I began to talk of the native species they have, inquiring what they have seen.
“Lots of Sea Hawks,” the son added.
I picked up the foot of an Osprey. “These are amazing birds. If you feel the bottom of their foot–that rough padding? You can tell they are built to prey on fish.”
I handed them the foot of the bird, and the father took it. His son continued to translate.
“The hallux, or the rear toe/talon, actually has the ability to turn something like a fish parallel to the bird so it creates less wind resistance in flight.”
The father examined the foot in silence. He looked up with a smirk.
“You don’t need a church or book to prove that God exists,” he paused, his voice deep and crackling. “This is enough.”
And that was it. In the foot a dead bird, a wise man was able to see God. Those, the only words he said directly to me, have stayed with me, and will continue to do so for a very long time. I am not one who us very religious, but there are tiny workings around us that are enough to muster assurance, or if anything, comfort. Isn’t it neat that we don’t have to think about converting oxygen to C02? That our very breath sustains the green around us, which in turn, sustains us? That people care enough about others to risk their life for them? That we can create new life with nothing but our bodies? That police and protesters walk hand-in-hand? That in-mates broke out of a cell to help a guard having a heart-attack? That the O-Zone layer is healing? That we are discovering ways to help the deaf hear and the disabled walk? That, in moments of necessity, we can come together? And we do.
So friends, please find those small silver linings. Do not completely fear the state of the world–embrace the knowledge you have of current events. Mourn for those lost, abide in tragedy and sadness enough to become a realist, and also because both of those aspects help to form the human experience–but also shine light on the good things happening too. In the beauty of the workings of the world. Do not deal in absolutes. For God, hope, a spiritual awakening, or whatever it is that you believe in–that purpose, the bright side, is there within you.
Below are links to a few positive articles I have found recently, and I will continue to update this list as time passes. Peruse them as you will–as you will probably never see them on national news:
Police Hug Lines in Dallas: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/crowds-line-hug-police-officers-dallas-watch/
O-Zone Layer Shows Signs of Healing: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/01/health/antarctic-ozone-layer-healing/
Inmates Save Prison Guard: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/inmates-break-jail-save-life-officer-guarding/
Solar Highways are a Possibility: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/historic-route-66-to-become-solar-roadways-first-highway-project/
2015 was the Most Charitable Year?: http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/2015-americas-charitable-year-ever/
We Can Help People See Color: http://www.today.com/parents/watch-these-brothers-emotional-reaction-seeing-colors-1st-time-t100228
We Work Together to Save Lives: http://www.today.com/pets/group-friends-form-human-chain-rescue-dog-stuck-reservoir-t98476
We Even Give Organs to Each Other: http://www.today.com/video/man-donates-kidney-to-girlfriend-talk-about-a-perfect-match-715951683678
Even are Kids are Helping: http://www.today.com/news/schoolkids-help-homeless-children-shelter-feel-super-hand-crafted-capes-t100516
We Can Move Without Limbs: http://www.today.com/health/double-amputee-former-marine-chris-van-etten-models-jockey-underwear-t100499
Even Sports Make a Difference: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/couple-helps-kids-indestructible-soccer-balls-play-24117501
We Are Still Learning and Education Still Exists: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2014/05/educator-motivates-students-through-science-raps/
Red Pandas Exist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSehQsYU9h4
We are Creating Showers and for the Homeless:
And writing/work opportunities: