Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

To Suck Or Not To Suck

(get your mind out of the gutter, this is a serious post, dammit.)

I don't really consider myself a misanthrope, but sometimes it's difficult not to succumb to the belief that people just suck.

There are days when I wonder why I bother with other human beings at all. When one stops to consider just how awful we can be to one another, it's pretty disheartening. Sometimes it's just a string of petty unpleasantries that, when added together, make for a really bad day. Sometimes, it's a big brazen bitch of a meanness that grabs us by the throat and shakes us until we are dazed and trembling. I've experienced both, and I'd be willing to bet that most of you have too.

Whether it's something big or small, purposeful malice makes us want to disengage from the world at large, hole up, and lick our wounds. I've had occasion to consider that maybe those weird sects that isolate themselves from the rest of humanity aren't necessarily as unbalanced as we might have once thought.

True, their idealism is tainted by religious fervor and fanaticism that will ultimately be their undoing, but the basic principal isn't really so crazy. What's nuts about wanting to live a life of peace and harmony removed from a sex and violence saturated media, an increasingly egocentric and materialistic society, and a morally confused political climate?

Nothing.

But that's really a fatalistic view of mankind, and though I have had plenty of reason to adopt such a perspective, I guess, like most people, I have a hard time giving up on us as a species.

Because just when I think I can't take any more of the ugliness, the perversity, the bigotry, the hatred and the greed...something happens to reaffirm my faith in humankind. Something happens to make me believe that the benevolence of which we are all capable, still has the power to change the world.

There are big things, of course: Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, UNICEF, Save the Children, Food For the Hungry, USAID, CARE....

These humanitarian organizations serve a vital purpose; not the least of which is making us feel that we are not impotent in the face of large scale human suffering. But there are small things, everyday, right here, if we just look for them: a young man giving up his seat to an elderly woman, a motorist stopping to help change a flat tire, a teacher using her personal time to tutor a struggling student. These are simple kindnesses that convey a powerful message; we can love one another.

Friday night was chilly, blustery, and wholly unfit for the gaiety that was taking place on field 4 at the local ballpark. The Opening Ceremonies for Spring Little League were in full swing, and the lush green outfield was crazily quilted with the colors of the different teams as they organized themselves into a loosely packed swarm of kids and coaches. Purple balloons danced herky jerky in the breeze above their heads. Now and then, one would escape, and a small shriek of dismay could be heard.

As the parents shivered in the stands, waiting for the ceremony to be over so they could retire to the warmth and comfort of their cookie cutter suburban homes, the League President took the stage.

"On March 2nd, a group of college ball players from Bluffton University in Ohio, travelling to Florida, crashed in the early morning hours on I75 near downtown Atlanta. Six....."

He paused, and a casual observer might have thought that the emotions he struggled to control were contrived for theatrical effect. But the people in the stands knew otherwise. Because they, like him, were only too aware that the players on that bus could have been any one of ours. Indeed, when the news was first reported in the early morning hours, it was said that the bus was carrying a Little League team, and all of us grew cold and sick with sympathetic horror. And now, though we knew better, we still ached for the parents whose children were lost that day, even as we thanked God or Fate that it wasn't our own.

He continued in a strong, but tremulous voice.

"Six people lost their lives that day, and a seventh has passed away today as a result of his injuries. 29 others were seriously injured. Their team color is purple, and today, as we prepare to start our Spring Season, we wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who were lost. We release these balloons in their memory. Release!"

300 purple balloons sailed into the air and dashed against one another, buffeted by the harsh spring winds. There was a collective "oooooooooooooh" from the children, and some capered and cavorted at the sight; unmindful that the beautiful spectacle of purple balloons melting into the sun streaked azure sky was meant to be a somber thing.

We all watched as those balloons drifted out of sight among the clouds, and I saw parents around me furtively wiping tears from their cheeks. My own eyes shimmered with unshed tears as I watched my husband and sons out on the field; faces tilted upward, mouths open. My youngest son stretched his arms up in a strange empty embrace, hugging the sky.

The President called for a moment of silence and for a full, pregnant minute not a sound was heard save the distant roar of traffic and the whistling of the wind. Not a cough, not a shuffle, not a single harumph of impatience. The young girl sitting next to me, whose face bore the stamp of Down Syndrome, grabbed my hand and hugged it to her breast. She looked upward and mouthed "Good-bye". I had the strangest feeling that she was not speaking to the balloons.

The entire affair took about five minutes. It was a small, perhaps even insignificant gesture. But it was a powerful moment of shared humanity. Through our sadness we took comfort in knowing that maybe, someday, if the tables were turned and our children were lying dead on a strange stretch of highway in the pre-dawn chill of a spring morning....someone somewhere would remember them.

And despite the sadness of the whole thing, I felt good. Because if 500 people can shed a tear for someone they don't even know, if they can reach out in a simple expression of compassion...then there's hope for us.

People don't suck. Sometimes the way we behave sucks. Sometimes, the way we treat one another sucks. But we can not suck if we try. And that's enough to keep me going.

Look for the little things. They add up to a whole lot of not sucking.

7 Comments:

  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger Sandra said…

    I felt this one profoundly BA. People don't suck. And that small moment was significant. It was a reminder about compassion for others and not taking things for granted in your own life. And reading it did the same for me.

     
  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    What a beautiful display of compassion. I felt like I could see the entire scene by just reading your post.

     
  • At 8:13 PM, Blogger luckyzmom said…

    Furtively wiping tears from my cheeks and trying not to such.

    Have I ever told you how much I always enjoy what you write?

     
  • At 8:55 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    I can't shake that accident. I wish I had been with you. That would have helped.

     
  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    This is extraordinary. The notion that the little girl was saying goodbye to more than the balloons--well, just wow.

    I need to share it with Nate who is most often firmly in the "people suck" camp. It's nice to know there's still balance in the world, yin to yang, light to darkness.

     
  • At 2:12 PM, Blogger kevin said…

    I too often find myself in the "people suck" camp, but I do feel that within every one of us there is a deep-seeded compassion and empathy when it comes to certain emotions. The sadness experienced from loss of life is one of those. Regardless of our stage in life or our seemingly negative outlook, we can't help but hurt when someone dies. Perhaps it's simply the residual fear of our own mortality, but I like to think it is a basic commonality that we share with our fellow Man.

     
  • At 7:30 AM, Blogger Pendullum said…

    I am so sorry for the loss...
    I really do believe in people...
    and generally, I have been blessed to meet angels along my way.
    I feel for those family members...
    I feel for all their friends and families...
    So very very sad...
    But glad there was the moment of prayer, as I am certain there were many moments like this across America for these and I am certain the wind carried the message to the hearts of those grieving...

     

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