It’s been a while since I’ve taken up my keyboard soapbox to ponder the ways of the world, but it’s been a long grueling last couple of months. It becomes ever so easy to get buried under your own troubles that you can almost forget the world exists outside of your personal bubble. To some extent this can be forgiven, after all if your basic needs aren’t met then it becomes next to impossible to think of others; but where does that line get drawn? Where does your ability to pay the rent or finish that assignment on time take priority over someone eating? It’s a difficult question, and one I am certain I don’t have the answer to, but I’d like to reflect on it for a little while because I think in some small way that might help do it justice.
I just finished watching Spike Lee’s “Do the right thing” and while the trip back to the 80s was amusing it still is somewhat shocking how little things have progressed. Actually, that’s not a fair statement, many important steps have been made to make the world better, and it is far far far to easy to get caught up in the negative things, but the problems still haven’t been solved.
I wonder if the problems would get solved faster if we focused more on the positive. If people saw every day the steps that were being taken to make this world better. I wonder what sort of shift in the overall mass perception of society would occur if we head more stories about the good. Would we be able to walk around in the dark without fear? Now here is a point of contention, because I can already hear people saying “If you walk around alone at night you are asking for trouble”. I’m not suggesting that we walk around with naive blinders on. Bad things clearly do happen to good people, and if you place yourself in situation where something bad happens you can’t be that surprised when it does, but at the same time, when does it become a self fulfilling prophesy? How much will the fact that a 65 year old women got brutally beaten and mugged today at 6am when walking to the skytrain make someone think twice about taking public transit tomorrow? People need to be safe, but we need to believe that the person walking down the street beside us isn’t going to mug us as well.
I think the internet is an amazing medium, and I know that most people can’t even begin to comprehend its potential. It’s incredible that people can just type to someone they have never met and become friends. You don’t know how attractive that person is, you don’t know what race they are, sometimes you don’t even know where they live, or even their real name and yet its possible to open up your secrets to them. Maybe it’s because you will never meet them face to face that it’s easier, it seems less judgmental, but what if that person you are talking to was your neighbor? What if that person was the person standing next to you on the bus? As wonderful as it is to have an amazing intellectual connection via words, wouldn’t it be that much better when you could touch them? Look deep into their eyes and feel a connection that reminds you what it’s like to be alive. We have so very few moments of pure happiness, so very few times that we watch the sunrise after having been up all night. And yet these are the moments that we will remember till we die. When we are sad it’s the memory of our first kiss, the smell of a spring rain on concrete, and knowing what it’s like to be held and wishing that you could live in that split second forever that warm our hearts.
We can’t forget these things. We can’t allow ourselves to forget the wonders of the world simply because we are being bombarded we images and sounds of destruction and hate.
I’m writing this because of the 65 year old women who was beaten this morning, and because of the shooting at Virginia Tech. I’m writing this I don’t know how to process these events any other way. I don’t know any of the people involved, I mean I’m sure we could play 6 degrees of separation and I’d be connected, but that’s beside the point, I wasn’t there and there is no possible way I can comprehend what happened. The scope of these events can’t even register in my head because I don’t know how to process the information. It’s wrong and horrible, and a tragedy, and things like it happen around the world in thousands of places every day and there is probably nothing I can do to stop it. The worst part is everything begins to blur together. The images and meanings jumble together to create a giant media scramble and I’ll have already made a joke about it tomorrow. And you know what, others will laugh at that joke because they can’t possibly comprehend it either, and it’s not wrong, it’s not bad, it’s not cold hearted, it simply is.
So in honour of those who I don’t know and never got the chance to meet, other people who like myself spent summer nights stargazing and talking about what they wanted to be when they grow up, I write this: I will remember all of the good things in life because it is only by doing this that anything worthwhile will change.