The image of 8 year old Martin Richard holding a handmade sign saying, “No more hurting people- Peace” pretty well broke my heart. To think that he was killed while eating ice cream at the finish line of the Boston Marathon is almost too much to bear.
The image of a group of Syrians standing in rubble, holding another handmade sign that said, “Boston Bombings Represent A Sorrowful Scene Of What Happens Everyday In Syria” breaks my heart equally.
The thought of Cody Dragoo, an employee at the Texan plant that exploded last week and also a volunteer firefighter, losing his life trying to help others is too sad for words.
The scene of hundreds of people in the Chinese province of Sichuan, and many giant Pandas, running for their lives after yet another Earthquake in the region that killed hundreds last weekend after killing thousands in 2008, overwhelms me with sadness.
The 4 deaths and multiple injuries in Boston were awful, and yet in the same week there were many thousands of tragic deaths and injuries in Texas, Syria, Iraq, Sichuan and other places around the world.
How do you keep responding with compassion when the suffering seems never ending? How can we take on the challenge of young Martin Richard to do our part to create a world where we don’t hurt each other?
Author Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes said,
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.
The first part of the world that is within our reach is our own ability to respond. We didn’t directly cause any of last week’s events, and we had very little control over any of it, but we can always choose how we respond. We can choose how we want to see the world. We can choose to look for reasons for optimism, focus in heroic, inspiring people and seek opportunities to live with kindness.
Comedian Patton Oswalt said it well,
We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
Those who cause harm are a fraction of humanity. The majority run into danger to try and help. We have to keep perspective, stay hopeful about human nature and own our ability to choose our response in every situation.
We can’t turn back the clock on last week’s events, and we have no idea what this week will hold. But we can choose our actions and reactions in each moment. Choose kindness for as many as possible, in as many situations as possible, with as much compassion as you can muster, for as long as you have life and breath to keep trying.