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It’s a good, good world

| Thursday, February 14, 2019

Seventeen Good, Good Things in This World:

  1. Hugs from tall people where you get picked up off the ground for a second.
  2. That boom feeling fireworks make in our chests.
  3. People who remember the little, offhand things you mention in passing.
  4. The joy of paying in exact change.
  5. Organ donors.
  6. People who are good at winking (also, masterful eyebrow wagglers).
  7. When you push the elevator button and it’s already there.
  8. Being able to do a “pull-through” when parking.
  9. Snow days.
  10. Friends that walk you to your dorm, classes, next location, etc.
  11. Dancing.
  12. The Olympics.
  13. Jokes that make you laugh too loud in public.
  14. The sound rain makes on a roof.
  15. That shower you take as a “reset” button when you’re having a stressful day.
  16. Being barefoot.
  17. When you’re close enough friends with someone that you don’t have to worry about making conversation and you just just sit in silence, enjoying each other’s presence.

Seventeen. Seventeen people killed in the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. Seventeen people who were good, good things in the world.

A year ago today, Nikolas Cruz arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly before dismissal and opened fire, killing 17 and seriously wounding another 17. He chose to make hate his legacy. He chose to transform 17 good, good things in the world, into 17 tragedies. He chose to transform a day of love into a day of grief, of loss, of evil.

But I still believe the world is good.

I still believe that people are naturally kind, that humanity is predestined to care. I don’t think society is a lost cause or in a downward spiral. Contrary to what most people think, the violence in the world has dramatically decreased over time and is still continuing to decline. The nonprofit sector of business is growing faster than any other and support of these nonprofits is at an all-time high. Twenty-five percent of Americans are volunteering. The world is becoming a more incredible place everyday and it’s up to us to continue that trend.

In high school, I made a point of telling my English teacher hello. Every day, my friends would roll their eyes and call me a suck-up, assuming I had ulterior motives. However, when my parents came back from “Report Card Night,” they told me my teacher hadn’t talked about my academics at their meeting. He’d said I was nice. He’d said I was one of the only students that said “Thank you,” that said “Hello,” that said “Have a nice day!” He said I made his day. And all I did was be polite.

We get caught up in grand gestures. In being spectacular. In trying to be extraordinary. But I think there’s something magical about small acts. About holding a door open for someone. About letting someone in on the freeway during rush-hour traffic. About a friend keeping you company while you’re up late finishing homework. Anyone can be friendly when they make a point to do so, but there’s something special about compassion shown absentmindedly. There’s something cool about kindness being instilled to the point that it’s automatic. It’s a given.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found people spend a lot of time trying to figure out what they stand for, who they are. But I’ve also realized, it doesn’t matter so much who we are, as whose we are. Who we belong to. Who we choose to help. What we choose to be a part of. Who we give our time to. It doesn’t matter if we have ideas or compassion, if we don’t use it to give back to the world around us.

This Valentine’s Day, forget chocolate or flowers or texts with every red emoji you can find on your keyboard. Instead spread love through your actions. Through leaving a penny somewhere where a person who needs a bit of luck might find it. Smile at someone in the hall who you might normally look away from. Call your mom. Send thank-you notes. If you think something nice about someone, tell them! At the beginning of this column, I listed 17 reasons the world is a good place. Be a reason for 17 more.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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