Epidemic

There’s a lot of commotion going on in the world right now. With opinions that differ in more ways than one and people butting heads over the desire to be right, I feel as if there’s been a dwindling of hope spreading across the nation – an epidemic of moral losses as everyone searches for a political gain. But the problem doesn’t lie outside of us – it’s not something we can put limitations on or negotiate – the problem lies within us.

I have a thing for encouraging shirts. No matter where I’m at, if I see a shirt with an encouraging or optimistic phrase on it, I have to buy it. It all started when I bought a shirt that says, “peace starts with empathy.” This shirt is my favorite, because it reminds me to be empathetic (understanding or compassionate towards experiences or people without having firsthand experience) no matter what the situation is. I think this world could use a lot of empathy right now. We seem to have collectively looked at the world, pinpointed a problem, and settled on the quickest and “easiest” solution possible, but the only reason this “solution” seems easy is because it doesn’t require any real change within us – it leaves all of us free of guilt while also leaving us free of change. But we can’t have both.

We need to change. Not laws or legislation, us. We need to be more responsible with our actions, more careful with our words, and more generous with our hearts. We need to make a point to reach our hand out every chance we get instead of stepping over all the people who have fallen and expect them to be okay. We need to get rid of this, “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mindset and start helping others – the change may start within ourselves, but an individualistic mindset will lead to individualistic actions, and this world is in desperate need of collective actions.

Stop giving people reasons to feel alone. Stop giving people reasons to believe nobody cares. Stop giving this world reasons to lose hope. Let’s start a new epidemic – start filling yourself up with empathy and spreading light and love everywhere you go. The world is too dark of a place to keep it all inside.

Let go

Over these past few days, the topic of forgiveness has been strangely present in my life. Whether it’s a topic being discussed in class or something brought up over the course of a conversation with friends, I’ve noticed it lingering for quite some time. I’m currently taking a Pakistani Literature course, so there’s obviously a lot of talk about the Partition and the life of people in Pakistan and India. A few days ago, we watched a short documentary about a girl who’s father and uncle tried killing her for marrying a man without their permission – they shot her and threw her in the river because she had disrespected them and “tarnished” the family name. As this young girl who had just been traumatized and severely injured began seeking justice for what had been done, she was coerced into publicly forgiving her father and uncle, which, according to Pakistani law, meant they were innocent and free to go. Later on, the young girl said these men were forgiven in the name of the law, but they would never be forgiven in her heart.

These situations are never easy. As a devout Christian, I believe very strongly in forgiveness. I believe the only reason I am able to live the way I do is because I have been forgiven. But what do you do when someone tried to kill you, or if someone hurt you in a way that was irreparable? Do you forgive them? Is it possible to forgive them? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer… everybody reacts to things differently and everybody believes in different things. But I think grudges hold you down and put a weight on your heart that can become detrimental to growth.

Maybe some people don’t deserve forgiveness, but the world would be a much different place if everyone got what they deserve. I believe in the power of letting go – what’s been done can never be undone and you may always be left with a scar to remind you of what has happened, but until you let go, you’re picking at a scab that’s trying to heal. You’re making the process last longer and become more painful.

Wish people the best, even if they’ve given you the worst. Send a prayer or a good thought their way, and let go.