On Hope and Humanity

The world right now breaks my heart. My computer screen is filled with pictures of weary, broken people with weary, broken eyes, and the ever-repeated images of a small, lifeless body washed up on the beach.

And yet, only a small part of my heart’s constant, aching throb is caused by these still images of tear-filled eyes and helpless silence reflected in photos whose true significance I can’t possibly hope to fully understand. Instead, one of the darker aspects of humanity pulls at my heart as I look around at my neighbors, my coworkers, my facebook friends.

As I look at their apathy.

Maybe you’ve seen it too, in the people around you. Maybe you’ve seen it in yourself. It’s not the type of apathy where someone turns a blind eye and ignores the plight of others with ignorance and insult. Instead, there is a deeper, quieter emptiness among us that is just as destructive and much more rampant: apathy disguised as empathy. A superficial collage of prayers, stories and heartfelt, genuine compassion, but no actual attempt to provide something substantial. Something real.

In a sea of platitudes and genuine pity, there are far too few rocks on which those we feel for can actually stand. Even in our swirl of well wishes, posts, and articles about the tragedy and destruction happening in Syria, we are still showing a concerning amount of disinterest as a nation– and as a species.

The thing that sets humans apart from baser animals is our ability to feel empathy and to display altruism. Or, at least, it should be. But instead we seem controlled by one base, animalistic trait: Greed. Like a hound guarding a bone from a starving sibling, our decisions are too-often controlled by the evolutionary trait that yet chains us to our bestial ancestors. And in a depressing display of our true natures, we make excuses and offer only a few comforting words when so much more is needed.

Our hearts and prayers are filled with the people of Syria and all they’ve been through. But the moment someone suggests that we actually donate to the cause, our previously-filled hearts slam shut with an audible I can’t.”

And maybe you truly believe that. Maybe every month is a struggle to make ends meet. Maybe you’re in debt or have payments coming due. Maybe your days are filled with work and your nights are filled with anxiety.

But even if that’s true– I bet you’re going to eat tonight.

I bet you have a roof over your head and something to read this on. And I bet you know with at least some certainty that you’ll have all these things tomorrow, too.

But more than that, though, I’m willing to bet that some part of you could be willing to turn down at least one meal so that someone else’s family can eat for the first time in days. I’m willing to bet that a part of you understands that a night of hunger here can offer hope that will last for so much longer to someone else who has lost everything.

Because that’s what you really offer when you choose to give of yourself to help others: Hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. Hope that there are people who see the person rather than the skin color, or the heart rather than the hijab. Hope that our base desires don’t control us and that we are not animals. Hope that the extent of our humanity is not limited to facebook posts, superficial platitudes, and like/share prayers.

Hope. That’s what really makes us human. Our ability to see it in the darkest moments of our own lives, and to give it to others in theirs.

Let’s prove it. Click on either link below to donate to the crisis in Syria.

donate.unhcr.org/syria 

rescue.org

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