I had every intention of focusing my column this week on the tragic shooting in Orlando last weekend that resulted in the death of 50 human beings and more than that injured.
My original thought was to focus on how all of these mass shootings we have experienced in this nation, and around the world, spark rhetoric from all sides — generating conversation on gun control, mental health, immigration and foreign threats.
And then... Nothing.
Something else gets everybody’s attention a few days or weeks later and we don’t hear another word about it until the next sick maniac takes away more innocent people. It’s a cycle of political finger-pointing and mass paranoia that does exactly zero people any good, so I’m done.
On the other hand, despite all the ugliness and all the hate circulating around this spinning globe of ours, I still believe that there is more good than bad. People do miraculous, selfless acts with a sole motivation of helping out somebody else, or giving an animal a good home or simply paying a toll for the person behind him or her as a random act of kindness.
Motivations vary. One person might overtip a server at a restaurant because he or she might have done that job before and knows how one good tip can salvage an otherwise forgettable shift. Another person might help out someone who is hungry because that person has also felt the sting of hunger. Someone else might contribute to a good cause because life has been abundantly good, and it’s nice to just pay it forward. And some just want to help because it feels good to do something for someone else.
There are millions of reasons to do something kind, and each stands on its own merit because, well, it caused someone to do something kind.
I’ve always believed this community is particularly benelovent in its giving. A family going through a medical crisis was the focus of a fundraising event this past Saturday, and nearly $40,000 was collected. A respite home for families affected by cancer stands tall on Route 26. Fire companies open their doors to host events to raise money for those in need, and our pages are filled each and every week with organizations comprised of volunteers who just want to help somebody out when they can. Those fire companies, by the way, are staffed largely with volunteers who will proudly stare potential death in the eyes just to help a neighbor in need.
Yes, there are disgusting things happening all around the world at any given time, but there are more things going on that fill our hearts and minds. For every one twisted individual with a grudge or looking to become infamous, there are a million people organizing an effort to raise money for people who are in need.
Oh, we mourn. And we should always mourn the loss of life. We should always mourn the fact that some people become so twisted in their minds that they think taking lives is a good idea, with a greater purpose. And we should always mourn the notion that there are more depraved people behind them waiting to take the baton of evil.
But we should also celebrate. We should celebrate that our old friend Ryan Saxton returned home for a vacation last week after three years being gone in Australia, and he came armed with a lovely life partner and a beautiful baby girl.
We should celebrate the fact that Bill Cobb, the father of our publisher and a good local man to his roots, celebrated turning 90 last week with his family.
We should celebrate each time we get the opportunity to sit down with our own familes for dinner, and each moment we have with them by our sides.
We should celebrate each time we sit down to enjoy a fresh piece of fruit grown by one of our local farmers.
We should celebrate every time we hear children laughing and playing at a playground or beach, and equally celebrate when we hear a group of our seniors sharing a laugh at a local restaurant.
We should celebrate that we are able to do so much celebrating because brave men and women put their names on the dotted line to serve our country both domestically and overseas.
We should celebrate more, and complain much less.
Again, there is no denying that there is pure evil in the world. To do so would not only be dishonest, but would also lessen our capabilities of identifying people who mean to do us harm.
But must we live our lives in fear or extreme pessimism over what the next day might hold?
No, this nation was built, grown and strengthened on the backs of people who live with hope. People who not only can clearly see a dream of a better life, but people who actually go about making change and embrace each day as a gift. That brass ring is still right there for us to grab, and no lunatic with a gun and convoluted mind can stop us all.
I used to enjoy having dinner at my aunt’s house because everyone in the family took a minute to share the best thing that happened in his or her day. It might have been sharing a joke with a friend or getting a good grade on a paper or stopping to pet a dog. Regardless, I found myself smiling at each one.
And that is where we have to put our focus. There is much more good to celebrate than evil to fear.