FFS Friday: Hope in Hard Times

Special Note: To the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting—I love you. I’m so sorry for your loss. I felt it heavily when I heard the news, and your pain leaks through each and every word of this article. I will not stop the fight to end gun violence in this country. I will not cease education on common sense gun regulation. I will not allow your lives—or the lives of your lost family members—to go lost without cause. If you have been affected by this tragedy, please reach out to me if you need to talk. I’ll be sending what I can to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas victims’ fund (link at the bottom of the article) and I will continue my fight in Congress for gun regulation that protects lives without intruding on rights. My heart goes out to you, Parkland. Know that you are loved.

By now, I’m sure all of you are aware of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. As of this writing, it is the United States’ 17th school shooting of 2018, coming after a violent 2017 in which there were nearly as many mass shootings as there were days in the year. This, of course, amidst tragedies worldwide. Natural disasters have threatened lives in Asia, Africa, and South America. Climate change is destroying communities by the day. Tyrants and despots subdue the natural rights and dignity of so many nations.

For the world-sensitive and the informed, it can truly be a mammoth task to stomach one horrible piece of news after the other. It seems as though we move from one tragedy to the next in a shuffle step—stomachs churning, hearts aching. Now and then, the collective energy feels deflated and defeated. I’ve heard, “What more can we possibly do? What else?” Admittedly, I check the news every morning and am usually disheartened and exhausted by what I find.

But you know what? I find hope. You can too.

I choose to hope and keep faith. I choose to be inspired and motivated, rather than allowing the awfulness of evil to deteriorate my strength. Life is about how we absorb the blows. My life, specifically, has been almost exclusively about standing in the face of hardship and saying, “Fuck you.” So, let me share with you a couple of things that keep me going in trying times. I hope that they help you smile, even in the face of adversity and tragedy.

Firstly, the world is not made of only bad shit. By the very nature of the Universe, the good stuff makes up a solid half of all things. With tragedy comes progress, and while it is difficult to accept the death of children, transformation will occur because of it. (Even if it is painfully slow.) Where hurricanes and earthquakes ravage neighborhoods, you’ll also find saviors out there risking their lives and building homes for the affected. Mass protests weaken and topple violent regimes. Evil leaders spawn whole generations of peace-minded activists. Wars fatigue the actors until, finally, peace reaches the negotiating table.

Secondly, it’s important to remember a cold, hard fact of life: shit happens. That doesn’t mean we shrug when a psychopath guns down a school or a sinkhole swallows whole city blocks. When we embrace the partial chaos of life, we can look at a tragedy rationally and say, “That’s awful. Is there anything I can do to help?” Allowing ourselves to be crippled or paralyzed by tragedy fatigue will not help anything. Bad things will continue to happen, y’all. We can busy our hands patching up the previous wounds, or we can bleed out.

Thirdly, let’s be honest with ourselves regarding what we can control. It’s a never-ending philosophical debate on whether or not we can control firearm proliferation, identify and mitigate dangerous mental health conditions, or determine who is responsible for the election of despotic leaders. Those conversations are important, and they should totally happen. But they don’t accomplish much during immediate aftermath. What about any given situation can we always control? Our reaction. If you are impacted indirectly by tragedy, it can lessen your burden to reach out—in a real way—to those affected. It doesn’t have to be big. Send cookies or bandages or flowers. Send a card with a message of hope. You would be surprised how such small things can be beacons of hope, and you’d be astonished at how much they can help you heal.

It’s okay to react emotionally, y’all. It’s human to feel compassion and hurt for other people experiencing something horrible. I just want you to remember that you can feel those things and use those feelings to move forward in a positive way.

You don’t control anything but your immediate sphere. That might sound terrifying, but it actually offers a lot of relief if you think about it. You determine how you’ll handle a crisis. You determine whether or not you smile at work, regardless of bad news or awful customers. You control whether you add to the positive energy of the world or increase the negative. No matter what awful crisis next grips the zeitgeist, it does not determine how you live your life afterward. You do.

For everyone out there currently going through it: I’m here for you. I feel you. At this very moment, I’m at the gym facing twenty TVs all airing scared children and psycho killers on repeat. This morning, I choose to take my focus away from the TVs and toward the people watching them. I hear condolences, I hear talks of reform, and I hear determination amidst the anger. I see people working out at 4:30am, before going to work for the day, because they want to be better. I see people planning care packages for grieving families and voters prepared to make a change.

I see hope.

Whatever stance you take on the hot button issues of today, remember that we humans have always made progress. We have always recovered. We have always continued. We have always endured. There is nothing—no plague, no city-melting bomb, no earth-shattering war—that has kept us from peace. At each tragedy, when it was so easy to stay buried under the rubble, we have picked each other from the stones. We have come together.

Today, offer your encouragement to a friend or a coworker. Smile at someone who needs it. Especially, and most importantly, if that person is you.

I love you all. Take care of yourselves.

— R.

Here’s how you can help the victims of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting.

What are your experiences in dealing with tragedy? Have you found a positive way to overcome tragedy fatigue? Share your experiences with others! Remember to keep the conversation civil. // This blog does not tolerate discrimination, hate, or bigotry of any kind. //

Ronin has suffered more than his fair share of tragedies. He’s turned those horrible moments into motivation, and now does what he can to spread positive vibes through his passion: writing. Read more of Ronin’s work on FacebookTumblrTwitter, and WordPress. See his travel photos on Instagram. Check out his writing advice videos on YouTube.

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Teach peace.


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