That was the first thing out of my mouth today when I read about the shooting in San Antonio.
"What is this world coming to???"
That was the second thing I muttered right before I fell melodramatically onto my bed. My mind raced as it flipped through all of the messy, tragic and confusing things that have happened in this world in 2012. I felt heavy with grief, but worse, I felt the cold tendrils of despair begin to wind their way across my heart.
The world is full of evil; the world is full of pain and horror. There's nothing we can do to predict it or stop it. It's a reality that not only feeds despair, but also the mentality that people are bad and we must live closed and guarded if we are to survive. And maybe it's true. Maybe we do need to live cautiously, but to what extent?
My fear is that if you open the door to despair, hopelessness will soon follow. Those two go hand-in-hand it seems, and they can easily tie themselves to your feet, the cement blocks that they are, and bring you to the very bottom. That is not a good place to be. Darkness and fear thrive down there, and pretty soon those convincing four will become so loud that's all you hear. Then what? You become frozen, closed, bitter or harsh. Or maybe you become numb to it all, and lose yourself in the various forms of modern day distraction.
It's easy to go there, at least for this catastrophisizer (yeah, I just made up that word). It's much easier to sink than to shake off the despair and hopelessness, and choose hope instead. It's so hard to carry hope when all of this horrible stuff is happening. But we must.
I remember someone telling me that faith is believing the unbelievable. I think that having hope and faith feels like that - believing in the impossible. It feels counterintuitive sometimes. But I have to look at these negative news stories and believe that people are still good, that love still exists in this world.
Luckily, examples of this are not hard to find. Spend time at a park or playground, and you'll see kids laughing. Go to a restaurant and see families sharing food together (just don't go to Chuck-E Cheese's... not the best place to find peaceful joy). Go to a corner downtown around sundown in Austin, and you'll see people feeding the homeless. Watch the "Free Hugs" video from Sick Puppies and laugh at all the love. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4)
These are the reminders that make hope not so hard to have. It reminds me that despite the darkness of the world, there is much more joy and love to be found. No matter what we do in this life, we're all called to carry this joy around and be hope for those around us. Love cannot stop just because there is suffering. Because there is suffering, we must love more.
That's the beautiful thing about love - no amount of pain or suffering can squelch it. Love is immune to death; it is immune to darkness. Where love exists, so does hope.
As I go to sleep tonight, I mourn the suffering of the world, but I rejoice in the blessings all around me: my family, my friends, my sweet boyfriend, my job, my life. They give me love, and they give me hope.
"So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
Cause oh they gave me such a fright
And I will hold on with all of my might
Just promise me that we'll be alright."
- Mumford & Sons 'Ghosts That We Knew'