It’s a beautiful mid-November day, almost so lovely that you can’t believe in a few months harsh winds and heaps of snow will make all interactions with outside nearly intolerable. As I walk home from the train, I listen to an episode of Lena Dunham’s staggeringly good podcast, Women of the Hour. This episode is about bodies and woman after woman explains her own journey to accepting her body. One woman, the filmmaker Rachel Fleit, talks about having alopecia, a disorder where her body rejects hair. She describes having to accept her condition as how she was meant to live and using that to “be there for the world” as she is.
Be there for the world.
That phrase echoes in my mind and I think about what that means. Sometimes it’s being who we are and believing that is enough. Sometimes it’s being kind and gracious to at least one human.
It’s not always easy to be there for a world that is an ugly, unsafe and destructive place. We feel scared, unwanted, too small to make a difference. We are all hurting a bit after some unspeakable acts occurred in multiple cities across the world in the last few days. It’s not only painful, but now we have a deeper fear that wasn’t present a week ago.
We all want to do something, but feel powerless. We changed our status, we call to question decisions made by our leaders, we point out other situations that also need our attention and prayers. We want to be there for the world but this is all we’ve got, or so we think.
When things like the attacks that happen this weekend occur, I often try not to read too much about it. I like to get the basics, but I do not allow myself to read up on each detail and click through the horrific images. .
Instead, I try to be just a bit better in my daily life. I smile harder at the cashier, I call my mother, I compliment someone. These are all very small things but it’s how I process and grieve the injustices.
The world really needs us to be there for it right now. No, a woman sitting at her computer in Illinois probably can’t stop terrorism or eliminate poverty or even shame her Facebook friends into caring about the same thing she does, but she does have the power to be a good person right in the moment. She can be herself and be kind doing it. That’s all the world has ever asked of her.
Maybe we can’t change the world as individuals, but we can all be better humans. Let’s hold doors open. Let’s not post shitty things on the internet about people we disagree with. Let’s smile more at strangers. Let’s forgive. Let’s seek out understanding. Let’s remind the people we love them that we do.
Better people means a better world.