How does one begin to explain the misfortunes and struggles that are far from hidden in this world? When something sad, bad, or downright unfair happens, what kind of explanation do you come up with? How do you make sense of what has happened, how do you give it purpose and reason? When crawling through the darkness, where do you go to find the light? All too true, we live in a world brimming with hatred, boiling with anger, and bubbling with greed, and sometimes we get lost in that. We focus so much on the bad, so much on the negativity published in the papers and featured on the news, that we get swept up and tossed around in all that is tragic, forgetting how much good there really is. True, there is no amount of good deeds that can erase the bad, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help write the future; the future where hatred is extinct, disease is obsolete, and love is all around.
Let’s think of the events that occurred at Sandy Hook, and the events that unfolded shortly thereafter. While what happened on that day was heart wrenching, wrong, horrific, and utterly ruthless, there came a wave, a tidal wave, of people wanting to do good things for other people. Ann Curry pegged the phrase “26 Acts of Kindness” and encouraged other people to ultimately pay it forward. Maybe it was buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you, maybe it was helping carry groceries to the car of an elderly man, or maybe it was simply starting a conversation with someone new and unfamiliar. I myself bought an elderly couple their meals while I was working as a server at a local restaurant, and that feeling of giving back was indescribable. As I described to them what “26 Acts of Kindness” was, I felt it deep in my heart that they would turn the moment over and do the same for someone else; the powerful and dynamic ripple effect of caring for others, strangers or friends. Whatever it was, there was no denying the fact that good things were happening, and the thought of “how can I make a difference” was rolling around in everyone’s head. The events at Sandyhook pushed people to embrace others both near and dear to them, and people unknown to them.
So where am I going with all of this? Why am I sitting here, lecturing you on things you already know, things you were already well aware of? Of course some good comes out of something bad, so why do I feel the need to harp you on this? Well, I have recently seen just what kind of good can come out of something bad. Back in November of 2012, I became a Make-A-Wish volunteer for a 17-year-old girl who wished to go to Paris. She had osteosarcoma and was diagnosed with the disease in August of 2013. It was a rush wish, which meant that the doctors wanted her to go on her wish as early as possible, but due to bumps along the way in trying to plan her trip, her trip wasn’t scheduled until April 2013. Three days before she was scheduled to leave on her big Paris adventure, some serious health issues arose and her trip was postponed, time and date unknown. Her health rapidly declined, so fast that it was hard to get a grip on the situation, until eventually she passed away on Monday, May 6th, 2013.
I tell you this story not to talk about the sad tragedies of our world today, but rather to show you that there is always some good for every bad. My Make-A-Wish child was overflowing with life, so much so, in fact, that grown men and women looked at her in awe, wondering how someone could be so positive and so strong in the face of such hardship. She said once that she believed that God gave her this disease because she was strong enough to handle it; that she could be an inspiration to other people who did not posses the kind of strength she had. Her motto was “Hakuna Matata”, because, in the words of Timon and Pumbaa, she didn’t want to worry about a thing, and believe me when I say, she absolutely didn’t. Her spirit, courage, optimism and simple love for life has affected me in ways I never knew possible, and it was through meeting Cora that I have understood how to truly live.
She never got to go to Paris, but I know she’s there now, dancing in the lights of the Eiffel Tower, knowing that the mark she left behind is one that will never fade away.
There is good in every bad. It just takes a little courage, and a whole lot of heart, to open your eyes to it.