In a world where a human being can go to a gig and set off a bomb killing 22 innocent lives and injuring countless others, it can be difficult to believe in human kindness. Or maybe that’s just the pessimist in me. But the awful truth is that there are humans out in the world who lack empathy… who just don’t think about the people they’re going to hurt. Or perhaps they do and just don’t care. That’s probably worse.
I’m not just talking about people setting off bombs and using guns to shoot school children, though. I’m talking about the person who told you you’re not good enough, the bullies who called you fat and ugly, the partner who cheated on you. I’m talking about all the fundamentally hurtful things a person can do to another. The things that break people apart.
At some point, when you’ve been hurt by another person, it becomes difficult to distinguish who is kind. Genuine. Empathic. Understanding. It’s hard to distinguish the ones who want to hurt and the ones who hurt by mistake. And then something small happens that restores your faith in humanity.
I know that’s a loaded phrase: “restores your faith in humanity”. But it seems apt in the world we currently live in. Where there is endless suffering from one end of the earth to the other. Where even the earth itself is suffering because of things like greenhouse gases. In this state of chaos in which we currently live, even the smallest of gestures can do just that: restore your faith in humanity.
I’m lucky. I don’t shy away from admitting that I live an extremely privileged life. There are people around me who support me. Resources I can turn to when I need them most. Finances available to me because I have lived in countries that are among the wealthiest in the world. Despite being an ethnic minority where I currently reside, I don’t fear for my life. And yet, difficulties arise.
In comparison to others, my difficulties aren’t even a blip on the radar of global issues. But we live in a world where we compare ourselves to those who are most similar to ourselves, and in that world, we all have hard times. It’s like the common saying goes: “There’s always someone who has it worse off than you”.
Today sucked in my world. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve had worse days. We all have. But customers at work were driving me up the wall, I was experiencing knee pain, I was tired, I was hungry. Small things but, they add up nonetheless in my world. And then that small gesture.
I’m aware that this post may sound insensitive. It may sound overly privileged. Like I’m complaining about “first world problems”. But that phrase was coined with good reason. I live in the first world. My problems are indeed first world problems. But they’re still my problems. And today I needed a small gesture to get me out of my constant state of rumination and anxiety. Luckily, I got that.
To the human beings who make the gestures, big or small, this is a thank you. Because despite my pessimism and my anger and my anxiety, you remind me that there are still good, loving human beings out in the world.
At this moment, there are 6,470,818,671 people in the world. Some are running scared. Some are coming home. Some tell lies to make it through the day. Others are just now facing the truth. Some are evil men, that war with good. And some are good, struggling with evil. 6 billion people in the world. 6 billion souls. And sometimes, all you need is one.
*Yes, I’m aware this is a One Tree Hill quote. Sue me. I like teen dramas.