Sometimes We Need A Reminder

Jack Layton, 1950-2011

I just finished reading a news article that has left me heartbroken, angry, numb, speechless, and I don’t know what else.

The article in question described a woman who received an anonymous letter from someone indicating that she should euthanize her autistic son. I’m not going to link to the article, because I don’t want this post to be about something so heinous.

I also don’t want to seethe or vent or question how someone could be so twisted and hateful, because I don’t think it’s what I need right now. I don’t understand hate like this, yet I know that it’s in the news daily; heartbreaking images from around the world showing us how cruel and horrible people can be to each other. It seems to pervade every corner of life – injustices across the ocean, south of the border, in our own country, in our province, in our town. It’s everywhere and it can be overwhelming. So effing I-can’t-breathe-I’m-so-angry overwhelming.

It’s times like this that I have to remind myself that anger and fear and despair and hate are but a small fraction of the good that happens every day. The problem, I think, is that we seem inundated with negative; anger and fear and despair sell. They are self-perpetuating; fear brings more fear, and anger reaps more anger.

We need to fight back. Not because we should gloss over horrible things, or pretend they don’t happen, but because we need to remind ourselves that love and hope and optimism are all around us. Because these too can be self-perpetuating if we allow them to be.

So despite the anger I feel at the moment, I’m going to try to focus on the words that Jack Layton left in a letter to all Canadians after his death:

“My Friends, love is better than anger, hope is better than fear, optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic, and we’ll change the world.”

Now go and hug someone you love. Tell a friend you miss them. Do something for someone you don’t know. Smile. Change the world.

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