So I missed yesterday’s “Friday’s Smile” post. I’ve been trying to use each Friday’s blog entry to close out the week with a positive, uplifting, heartwarming thought, a routine I’d like to continue, btw.
But the past seven or eight days have been rough:
- a “bomb cyclone” in the upper midwest caused catastrophic flooding in Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois, destroying lives (4 confirmed dead), towns, home, farms, livestock, and thousands of acres of crops;
- On the eastern shore of a continent on the other side of the Atlantic, Cyclone Idai wiped out some 400 lives (400 confirmed dead) and countless livelihoods in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, displacing hundreds of thousands of people who, for the most part, are already the (often forgotten) poorest of the poor with few resources;
- On the other side of the world, a lunatic white supremacist attacked two congregations of Muslims in Christchurch (New Zealand), claiming 50 lives and injuring 50 more, including children.
- Due west from us, on the far side of the Pacific a pesticide plant explosion in eastern China killed dozens of workers (64 confirmed dead, dozens missing) and injured hundreds, the likely cause of which was human negligence at a factory with dozens and dozens of safety violations in recent years.
I could go on, but you get the point: people all over the world have seen much tragedy this week. And with so much sadness, outrage, and helplessness worldwide, it felt heartless, narcissistic, and flippant to post something silly about which I could smile. Yet…
Then, in the midst of all that awfulness (is that a word?), stories began to emerge about which I could smile: stories about…
- the determination of survivors to rebuild their lives despite their grief and losses great and small;
- the rallying of complete strangers to help, encourage, and support one another, even though they, too, may have lost everything;
- volunteers and professionals putting their lives at risk to rescue those who were trapped or endangered;
- humane efforts to feed/save livestock and pets trapped by floodwaters;
- people of all faiths, races, cultures, and skin colors uniting to universally condemn the racist attack of worshippers in two Christchurch mosques.
The catastophic and ugly events of the past week break my heart, make me angry, and leave me feeling small and helpless in what sometimes feels like a world gone mad, or a world that has, at the very least, lost its way in the shadows of calamity.
But then glimmers of light pierce the darkness: glimpses of hope, strength, faith, and of the indomitable human spirit.
What is it about humankind that allows us to be knocked down and knocked down and knocked down again, only to rise and start over? I think it goes back to that word:
By definition: “impossible to subdue or defeat.”
Synonyms: invincible, unconquerable, unbeatable.
As English philospher Sir Bernard Williams once said, “Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.”
Something in that human spirit keeps us from resigning ourselves to defeat. Its resiliency eliminates the possibility of our quitting. We get up and put one foot in front of the other, rebuilding our lives piece by sometimes-painful piece. Sure, it may not be life as we knew it (and we rightfully grieve that), but it’s a new life fresh with hope and possibities.
New hope born of the indomitable human spirit is something I can smile about, if only with the smallest hint of a grin to start (even while my heart is breaking).
Every day is a new day, the morning always comes. We can rise. And we do.
And that, Dear Reader, brings hope to my heart and gives me my small smile for this week (even if it’s a day later than planned). I hope it does the same for you.
’til next time,
(PS: My apologies for today’s somber tone, but it seems fitting. I’ll be back to my usual tongue-in-cheek-amused-by-my-world self next time. Thanks for your patience.)