153 Reasons to Change

CTujsdZUkAEo0a4My heart aches as I see my screens fill with pictures of the dark Eiffel Tower. I see friends post about relatives or friends that are in the city. I see #PrayforParis up and down every profile.

I am aching for some way to help. Some way to send a hug and a hand to hold to every victim and to every victim’s loved ones. I am aching for a way to stop the violence and the pain and the hate. Is there any way that I, one person, can make an entire city (nation, world) stop hurting?

The answer to that question is no. I believe that we’re all capable of the impossible, but not alone.

I don’t follow the news. I don’t pay attention to the bad things that happen around me, because I don’t like to know that there are people that are suffering that I can’t help. It makes me feel sick inside. But tonight I said, enough is enough. I’ve been reading news stories about Paris for an hour and a half. And I’ve cried for an hour and a half. I’ve cried for the deaths and losses and pains of people whom I have never met.

We cannot become numb. We cannot accept to ignore the ugly tragedies of the world because we can’t fix them with the snap of our fingers. Numbness dulls pain, but it also dulls the drive that is necessary for change. Anger and sadness and helplessness inspire action.

If you’re not angry, or you haven’t cried today because of the 153 human beings (at least) killed in Paris today by other human beings, click on this link. Read about the terror that was created at six different public places, watch interviews with those who were nearby, watch video clips of people screaming in the distance. Get angry. Let your heart ache. Cry. Yell. Feel something.

Then take that anger, or that grief, and use it. Replace it with love. For every person that was affected by the horror that took place in Paris, France today, put that much more passion into the people and the causes and the livelihoods that you care about.

The only way that we can stop hate is by replacing it with love, and passion. Everyone has a drive in them to change the world in some way. We wouldn’t do anything if that drive didn’t live somewhere within us. But the more we ignore the conditions that need to be changed, the less desire we have to change them.

And just like everyone has a drive, everyone has the means to change something. Changing the world doesn’t have to mean affecting every living creature on the planet. That’s not one person’s job. You and I can change the world simply by changing ourselves. Love inspires love, and love replaces hate.

My personal response to what happened today is that I’m finally going to start reading the news, following politics, and acting as an engaged member of our society. I’ve failed in my civic duties up until this point, but this is not a time in which any of us can afford to be oblivious. I will no longer allow myself to be complacent.

We can’t bring the 153 people back. But we can make their lives worth something. Today, you have 153 reasons to make a change in your world.

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” -Jack Layton

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