I couldn't sleep last night. I read the news, and I saw so much heartache. So much pain. So much anger and bitterness and hatred. Before I went to bed, I checked my phone and every story in my newsfeed was filled with some form of suffering.
I'm familiar with pain. I haven't lived in a war-torn country. I haven't faced genocide. I have never been impoverished, and I have never been oppressed. Much of what you see in the news, I have never experienced firsthand. The pain I know is different. I lost my son in October after fighting for his life for nearly seven months in an ICU. Putting it all into perspective, I have been lucky, but the pain I feel in my heart tells me a different story.
Over the course of the past six months, I have learned a vital lesson. Pain and suffering are a universal language. We may not speak in the same tongue, but there is something about watching your world crumble to dust that breaks all barriers. Our experiences may differ, but the toll it takes on us is the same.
I now read stories in a different light. I now have a compassion and an empathy I never possessed before. I can no longer turn a blind eye to the heartache of strangers around the world. Watching the news through the lens of heartbreak shows me a different story. The pain is visceral.
While I do not understand exactly what another person may face, I ache for them. This is the universal nature of suffering.
When I awoke this morning, I watched a video of more than 100 clergy in Baltimore banding together, marching, protecting, shielding, and loving the people they came into contact with. The correspondent on the video used the words "good prevail over evil."
Pain and suffering are universal, but there is an even greater universal force. Kindness.
Kindness is contagious. Kindness dissolves anger, rage, and violence. Even when kindness is beaten down, it finds a way to prevail. All we have to do is look for it.
In the past year, I have experienced more kindness from strangers than I had in my entire life. The goodness that can arise in the face of adversity is astounding. Kindness is in all of us. Kindness is the purpose for which we are all placed on this Earth. Kindness is stronger. Kindness is better. Kindness wins. A quick glance at the news doesn't always tell the full story.
Where there is great pain, there is also great love. There is also great hope. There is also great kindness.
The time to change our world is today.
Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, know that pain is universal, but so is kindness, and kindness is always stronger.
Spread kindness today.