I’m starting to think my dad’s family’s motto is “It is what it is”. To my mind, it’s the secular equivalent of “God has a plan for everything, and we don’t know what it is until it happens”. It’s a mantra that sees us through tough times. It makes us recognize that some realities cannot be changed, and that we must make the best of what we have and are in the moment, or at least move on or persevere through, if nothing else.
It’s hard enough moving past a personal upset or tragedy, but bad things don’t end there. I choose somewhat realistic optimism and say that the world is not cruel, but there are cruel people living there, and that is a problem when they act on that cruel nature towards others. (I know, I know, free will, people need to be able to do for themselves as best they can, but when that starts interfering with others’ rights to enjoy and live their lives to the fullest, that’s really not okay.) Bad things happen, and how we move through and past them shapes our character. Sometimes, it takes only a minute or two, but sometimes, we may never completely come to terms with a tragedy. Why, you ask? Exactly. Why?
I am one of those people who, when faced with a new fact, often start asking “Why?” Why did it happen? Why is it that way? Why can’t it be another way? If it could have been/be another way, why wasn’t/isn’t it? “It’s God’s plan” or “we may never know” simply doesn’t cut it for me a lot of the time, especially the former explanation, as an agnostic. Honestly, though, there are some tragedies I don’t want to know the why for. I don’t want to hear some crappy excuse for the taking of a person’s life or, ahem, chastity against their will, and, betimes, I don’t want to hear “Just because” or “I had nothing better to do” or “They wanted it”. I don’t want to hear that a person thinks they’re justified in committing an unjustifiable act.
I guess another part of this is the sensationalism of modern media. Have you ever noticed how we often hear about the bad things, but the good often goes unnoticed unless it’s on par with superhuman feats of generosity or defense? We don’t celebrate the little things enough. We aren’t reminded often that there are good things that happen in the world, too, and that’s kind of heartbreaking. I suppose that some might consider it insensitive to celebrate the good with so much bad going on in the world, but when has anger led to more good than bad? I do not advocate for not taking the time to grieve; just the opposite, in fact. But nobody can go it alone. We need others to be the wind beneath our wings sometimes, and, other times, to be the voice of reason that says “let it go and be at peace”.
Justice is important, and it’s a topic I don’t feel qualified to handle completely. I cannot pass judgment on everyone accurately. I cannot dictate to people I have never met before what kind of person they are after asking them only a little about themselves. I don’t think we can ever completely know someone’s life story, because there’s always some little detail, some small thought, that goes unmentioned.
Humans can do horrible things, it’s true. But they can also rise up and move past these things, even if it takes a while. And maybe, if everyone was a little more selfless; if everyone took the time to smile at a stranger or help out in a soup kitchen; if everyone just stopped and thought every once in a while, things wouldn’t be so bad. I don’t know; I can’t say. But what I do know is this: I can do those things, and I will, because I firmly believe that it helps. The future is what it is, but only if you let it be that way.