2016 drove me to write

November 28, 2016

Today was a sad day. Well, most of the year has been sad. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. But today struck closest to home, because it happened at one of my homes–Ohio State. And it happened at a home I share with my sister, who’s currently a student there.

The second I saw the news I called her from work. Luckily, she was safe in her apartment. When things like that happen, you don’t stop and think for a second. You just pick up your phone and call the people you love that may have been hurt.

Do you think we could employ that technique more? Maybe the circumstances don’t have to be so dire to just check in on people and tell them you love them, and that you’re glad they’re okay.

I am constantly wracking my brain trying to find a solution to make the world a better place. How broad and ambitious a wish. The entire world? Better? What’s better?

There are a lot of tactical things we can do. We can change laws and join groups and condemn groups. We can make art and try to inform those less informed. All of those have some effect, whether negative or positive.

I try to do the tactical things. I donate money to some organizations fighting for causes that are in desperate need of help and support. I’ve been making a lot of things lately: books, video games, drawings, paintings. I make to make other people happy, and I make because it leaves me with a sense of worth and accomplishment I will never feel in any other situation.

But I don’t pick up the phone enough. I don’t really like talking on the phone.

Today I picked up the phone in a heartbeat because maybe my sister was in trouble, and I love her so much that I couldn’t bear not knowing for even half a second if she was okay.

That reflex move is what has the power to change the entire world, for the better.

Unbounded love and empathy: we feel it toward our families, friends, and partners. But how can we feel it toward people who are complete strangers? There are all of the stories about tragedies like plane crashes where people hold strangers in their arms as they near death. In those last seconds of life, or what these people assume will be, nobody cares if the person they are sitting next to is different. They just want to hold onto someone, because human connection is how we are brought into this world, and it’s the way we want to leave.

Again, the question, how can we feel even half of this need to bond with strangers in our day-to-day lives? Must we constantly be bombarded with terrible news? Is that really what it takes?

I don’t have answers. As someone who champions education and teaches, I would say that advocating love and acceptance of any and everyone should be part of any curriculum. But when these tragedies happen on school grounds, in front of students who are trying so desperately to form their own opinions and beliefs around the feuding space of politics and the humanities, I am especially hopeless.

Tonight I’ll imagine the fear and uncertainty that students feel now more than ever toward their futures, their school, and the people around them. I’ll try to figure out a way to fix that, which will most likely involve a combination of tactical and blindly passionate efforts. And if I am feeling especially ambitious, I’ll pick up the phone.