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Restoring faith in humanity by seeking greatness

July 8, 2013

Every weekday morning, I take the bus from Overland Park to Lawrence. I sit toward the front of the bus, and I see the driver’s reflection in the mirror. As I sit there, I think about how boring it must be to drive the same route back and forth on K10 every day, just dropping people off and moving on to pick up new passengers. But without this bus driver, I would not be able to get to work, so to him, I am grateful. We all are, as every passenger thanks the driver upon departing the bus each morning.

It’s not a unique story. In fact, it’s one that can be told all around the world: hundreds of bus drivers driving their routes and getting passengers safely to their destinations every morning. But that’s what makes this story extraordinary: this bus driver and these passengers are not superheroes saving the world through extraordinary powers; they are everyday people, saving a slice of the world through their everyday greatness.

We live in a world where bad news captures the front page and so-called “feel-good” stories are saved for the last minutes of newscasts. We live in a world of optimal technology and development, yet a world where that technology and development are sometimes used for despicable things. We live in a world in which we are more connected to other lands than we have ever been, yet a world that faces, perhaps, more polarization than there has ever been. We live in a world that has come to expect the worst in the day and assume the worst in people.

We live in a world in which our faith in and hope for humanity are tested constantly by the evil that exists in it.

It’s easy to lose sight of the good when all we hear about is the failure and the malicious, so how do we restore that faith in humanity, goodness and the world? In the words of Ann Curry, “The human capacity for greatness is boundless. You can find that greatness in everyday people. We are all capable.” We must seek that greatness.

I believe in the human capacity for greatness. I see it on my bus ride every morning, and it is amazing.

Maybe I’m a naïve 20-year-old. Maybe I’m just too green. Maybe my heart just hasn’t been hardened by the world yet.

But when I think about individuals who ran toward the explosion during the Boston Marathon, teachers who sacrificed their own lives for their students during the Sandy Hook shooting and the stranger who showed me where to go when I was alone in Rome, I know greatness surrounds us every day.

Nothing is perfect. This world certainly is not. Sometimes we have to do tasks we think are below us, we feel unfulfilled, we don’t enjoy the passage of time. We come home and turn on the local news and learn of another homicide or bank robbery… so often that we become impervious to them. It’s just more data for the statistics. We worry about pleasing our bosses or our parents or whomever are the Powers That Be, and we begin to forget what’s important. Instead of hoping for the best, we just expect the worst because we’ve forgotten about that everyday greatness.

Remember the bus driver. Remember the woman who suffers daily without complaint. Remember the man working a job he hates so he can support his family. Remember that you, too, are great despite your imperfections.

And maybe that’s how we sustain hope in our seemingly negativity-based society. By remembering that the world, despite its imperfections, is great. Even though we’re not all superheroes with extraordinary powers, we can restore our faith in humanity by realizing the greatness people exhibit every day is our own version of extraordinary.

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From → Miscellaneous

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