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We don’t live in a “nerf ball world”

December 16, 2012

For the past couple days, I’ve been wanting to say something about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, but when I tried and when I thought about it, I found that no words came to me. I found that I couldn’t understand it. I found myself getting frustrated with news coverage that could only provide speculation, not definitive answers, because there are no definitive answers – at least not yet. Anyway, as I have now written this blog post, I have figured out something I would like to say.

In Western Civ this semester, we discussed the question: if God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent, why is there evil on Earth? One girl talked about a concept she called a “nerf ball world,” a world where nothing bad ever happens. While a nerf ball world seems good in theory, it would not allow for growth, progress or change. The world needs the bad so people appreciate the good more.

That’s how I’ve felt about that question because no other answer ever really made sense to me. But honestly, in recent days, that answer has made less sense to me. Rather than changing and growing and progressing, we, as a world, are stuck. Evil things occur, and then we come together and we regain strength. We start to appreciate the little things more. We perform acts of kindness. We are nicer to one another and express love to a higher degree. We always remember.

But then what happens? To me, it seems like after a while, the world returns to the way it’s always been. We forget to appreciate the things that matter. We don’t grow, and we don’t change. We’re the same, until the next tragedy occurs, the next act against humanity is publicized, the next evil transforms a place.

I know that sounds cynical. But it seems like no matter how much a tragedy impacts us, at a certain point, it fades into the backs of our minds. We never forget, but the day-to-day takes over and consumes us. Understandably, we, as individuals, have to get on with our lives. Not as understandably, the world continues on the way it was.

Today, when President Obama spoke at a vigil honoring the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, he said, “We can’t tolerate this any longer. These tragedies must end.” He challenged the nation to act to end these kinds of evils, and as president, he vowed to use his office to work to prevent more tragedies like this. I respect him for that.

We are not the president; we do not hold powerful offices. But he’s right – these tragedies must end. There are things we can do every day to start changing the world, so this is my challenge:

Part one: Every single day, remind yourself how lucky you are. Be grateful for everyone and everything that means something to you. Look at every obstacle and know that you have the ability to overcome it because everything you’ve been through has given you those skills. Every time you feel the need to vent or complain, remind yourself of what you have. Remind yourself that you are here for a reason and every day is precious.

Part two: Don’t waste time. That “bad things won’t happen here” mentality is nice, but it’s naïve. The truth is, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow or later today. The cliché “all we have is now” is a better mentality that hopefully reminds us to take advantage of opportunities and to go after what we want because nothing is guaranteed.

Part three: Be kind. It’s so easy to do. It doesn’t have to be big; it can be as simple as smiling at passersby or holding open a door. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The world depends on our acts of kindness.

Take those three parts of this challenge and carry them throughout the rest of time. Don’t forget them once this news cycle ends, but keep them in mind and heart. Maybe then, the world will change, and maybe then, the world will begin to be a better place.


From → Sophomore

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