In the wake of last week's attacks around the world, the people have taken to social media, as is standard for this generation, to express their grief, fear, anger, sadness. Indeed, it is a beautiful thing to see humans coalesce for a common cause, despite the disheartening circumstances.
But there is a quote circulating that says, "I see humans, but I see no humanity." And we, as a society, will be going nowhere with that defeatist attitude. Undoubtedly, humanity is nonexistent in the evil done by these so-called humans, but letting the sick actions of a few define the rest of our great, big world is allowing these terrorists' legacy to thrive like mold in the dark, moist (yes, I said it) caves in which they often reside.
Whenever something terrible happens, us humans band together for what seems to be only a blink of an eye, shaking our heads in unison, and shortly thereafter settle back into our separate lives. Sure, that's natural, but why must we wait for something bad to happen to help each other?
Perhaps one reason we struggle to find and/or create positive, lasting change is our inertia, or our propensity to behave reactively instead of proactively. The world can be a cruel place and so we demand change with a hashtag, but few of us want to put in the elbow grease required to put said change into motion. We are busy, we are tired, we are discouraged, we are lazy, etcetera, but nothing worth having comes easily. Sometimes it's the smallest acts, ones that do not even necessitate elbow grease, that echo the loudest. We cannot control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we treat other people. Sure, none of us are perfect, but it never hurts to try. And that's really where it begins. The incredible thing about treating one another with dignity, compassion, and respect is that it almost always acts as a boomerang. It will come back to you, acting as a beacon of light in even the darkest of days.
The cold-bloodedness of our world is devastating, overt, and seemingly omnipotent. But lest we forget, humanity exists in ways of which we are not always aware -- it just doesn't get as many hits. It exists among the first responders and good samaritans who assisted the victims of last week's attacks. Look for the helpers, as Mister Rogers said. It exists among the nations that have come together in solidarity. It exists in someone holding a door for a stranger. It exists when a group of friends coexist, paying no mind to one another's differences. It exists in treating one other with dignity, kindness, and respect. All of these things happen every day - watch for them. Humanity is not just giving money; it's giving time. It's giving heart. It's building one another up. It's holding out hope for humankind even when we are repeatedly disappointed. And finally, humanity exists when we each fulfill our moral obligation as fellow human beings to help one another, not only in times of trouble.
Humanity is everywhere, if and when we choose to see it. Here are a few ways to get your hands dirty and restore your faith in humankind, because often we need to see it to "be" it:
If you want to help fight poverty:
The Robin Hood Foundation
If you want to help prevent suicide:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
If you want to help fight eating disorders:
If you want to serve milkshakes to oncology patients:
New York Presbyterian Hospital
If you want to do crafts and play sports with children with disabilities:
If you want to help the elderly:
Cobble Hill Health Center
If you want to aid in disaster relief:
American Red Cross
If you want to help LGBTQ youth:
If you want to help build housing for people in need:
Habitat for Humanity
If you want to help the homeless:
Coalition for the Homeless
If you want to fight brain tumors:
National Brain Tumor Society
If you want to advocate for pediatric psychiatric patients:
Children of Bellevue
If you want to help a young girl develop self-confidence:
Lower East Side Girls' Club
If you want to provide career development and interview suits to low-income women:
Dress for Success
If you want to help the blind:
Or if you want to try a little bit of everything:
New York Cares
My thoughts and prayers are with the whole world - particularly those affected by last week's heinous acts, and those who work to make the world a better place every day.