Today’s post is going to be a little different than the usual, but I think the message is too relevant to ignore. Hopefully everyone can take something from it, no matter one’s age, beliefs, or background.
The world is complicated, and bad things happen. Neither of those facts are new. People all over the world are hurting and lost, for more reasons than I at least will ever understand. For people living in the U.S., some of that chaos has seemed relentless recently. From natural disasters to displays of prejudice and hatred, so many people are feeling unsafe.
It is worth noting that life never promised us safety, and to live only in fear is to cease living at all. But I believe with absolutely everything I have in me that each of us is responsible to work toward the safety and well-being of our fellow humans. I might dislike you, disagree with you, or even distrust you, but as a human being you deserve my compassion and basic respect.
This idea has been summed up a lot of different ways, but the one I come back to most is “Love your neighbor.” Of course, the key is to realize that my neighbor is not just someone near me or similar to me, but rather includes anyone whom I am able to help. That’s a big task — we, alone, are not able to help everyone. But we do have a responsibility to help. We have a responsibility to help not just when asked, but when we recognize a need; not just when we want to but probably more importantly when we don’t want to; not just when it is convenient but when it costs us something.
I will be the first one to admit that I mess this up all the time. Sometimes I do not pay enough attention to the needs of others, or move past them in hopes that someone else will step up, or only help reluctantly and sparingly. It happens, and it’s a very human thing to do. However, only taking the risk will help make our world a better place to live in. Only suffering the cost will help make humanity better. Only reaching out when it would be easier to not will help spread hope to the people who need it most.
In the span of only a few weeks, North America is facing up to three hurricanes, a number of wildfires, and a continuing pattern of social turmoil. Recent flooding in South Asia and Sierra Leone has led to thousands of deaths. Syria is still in the middle of a civil war, and innocent people are constantly caught in the crosshairs.
I don’t say all of these things to tell you the world is ending or to suggest that we should all drop everything and focus all our energy on these crises. There is still a need to fulfill our pre-existing responsibilities, and to remember that it is okay and even good for joy to be found despite pain. But I am saying we each ought to find a way to help, with one of these issues or another. Donate to a relief organization, volunteer at a local homeless shelter, be kind to the person who was a jerk to you.
No action truly done for another person’s well-being will be without positive impact. You may not see it immediately or ever, but it’s worth it nonetheless. I’ve linked above to some helpful information, but it is my hope that we also take it upon ourselves to learn more about the people around us, to keep our eyes and hearts open to the fact that they are human, and all the significance that holds.
I know this was a heavy post, but part of being an adult is acknowledging and acting in the face of difficult things. Feel free to share thoughts or comments below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up, and let’s love our fellow humans this week.