Courage and Kindness

This is a silly blog. Don’t think I don’t know it. I know that the only people who take a look at it are very kind friends, my mother (hi, mom!), and, according to WordPress statistics, someone in Bulgaria (so “Zdravei” to you, friend!). I write it mostly for practice. I have a lot of thoughts that I feel I can only articulate with the written word. Journals are nice, but I feel like putting my writings in a public place where anyone can see and form opinions about them increases the pressure to make good observations, be factual, communicate effectively, and (hopefully) become a better writer in the meantime.

It started as a place where I could freely gab about entertainment-related matters that no one else would ever remotely care about as much as I do. The point, as I say in my “About” page, is to provide “views on life, media, art, and the world, and present it in a humorous yet informative way.” That’s what infinitarisus is all about: limitless laughter.

So how does one find enough joy to be able to stand and laugh in midst of terror and fear? I tried back in November when terrorists killed 130 people in Paris. I tried again when I first made the move abroad to live in Auckland, New Zealand, and discovered that 32 people had been killed in Brussels, Belgium by three more terrorists. I’m absolutely sick that here I am again, trying to make sense of an attack on my own country that occured only a few days ago.

HBAEELJULX

I went to see two movies the night of the Orlando, Florida massacre of 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub. Auckland is 16 hours ahead of Orlando, so while much of America woke up to discover the horrors that had unfolded in the middle of the night, I was still very much awake. Once I got out of the last movie, I turned my phone back on and received an alert from the New York Times early on in the unfolding of the tragedy stating, “A shooting at an Orlando nightclub has left, ‘mass casualties,’ the police said.”

…and what makes me saddest is that I remember looking at my phone, shaking my head and thinking, “Another one.” 

At the time, there was no number attached. It wouldn’t be until I woke up the next morning that I would discover that this attack is the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. But at the time I read this initial notification, I had no idea how serious it was. Gun violence in the United States has become such a common occurence that, although I was deeply saddened, I was unsurprised that it had happened yet again. How sad is that?

I could sit here at my desk and type out a thousand more words about how abhorrent this violence is or provide some uplifting message about how terror will never triumph, but it’s already been said by writers far more articulate than I ever could be. Watch Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, John Oliver, or James Corden’s Tony Award dedication – these comedians and their writing staffs, who have based their livelihoods around making people laugh, all spoke beautiful words about remembrance and hope and courage and love, and have masterfully found a way to maintain uplifting joy despite these horrors.

My blog is entertainment based. I won’t rehash what so many more talented people have already said, but I will instead tell you about a simple, five word line from a very simple movie that changed my life. Being away from my country during a time of pain hurts very deeply, but in a way, it has been a remarkable experience because I got to watch with an entirely new set of eyes as these five simple words were exhibited by people of all nationalities:

“Have courage and be kind.” 

In the 2015 film Cinderella, these are parting words given to the titular character by her dying mother. These words follow Cinderella throughout her story, and is the driving force by which she retains her goodness and good things in turn are her ultimate reward.

Initially, this mantra stuck with me because I truly believe, much as the film presents, that were these words to be the driving forces behind everyone’s motivation, the world would be a better place. Call this naively optimistic, but it’s undeniably true. After seeing Cinderella, I wanted to be a person who lives her life with courageousness and kindness. I’m not fully there yet. There are times when I can be cruel, cold, and harsh, or maybe hide from a risk or run away from conflict. But it’s in these moments that I must reflect on what positive things have happened from taking a chance or exhibiting generousity, and thereby encourage myself to be a better person in the end.

I have seen so much courage and kindness from Auckland expressed to my fellow Americans trying to pick up the pieces after Orlando. Shall I talk about my new British friends, who changed their profile pictures on Facebook to show their support? Or shall I talk about the fact that a group of New Zealanders organized a candlelight vigil for the victims that was held in one of Auckland’s biggest parks the day after the attack? Or how about that the residence hall I’m living in during my time studying at the University of Auckland is having a discussion group to acknowledge and celebrate diversity in the wake of the massacre?

Maybe I should talk about the courage and kindess that went viral, making its way onto my social media. Perhaps the videos of hundreds of people lined up to give blood? Or maybe the nearly $3 million that has been raised by under 70,000 people in just a day to benefit to victims and their families?

Maybe I should talk about the courage and kindness of the first responders, who risked their own lives in a three-hour long standoff with the assailant, or the medical professionals who are still working tirelessly to save the lives of 53 people who are wounded from the attack.

Or maybe I should talk about the courage and kindness inside every single person who went to Pulse that night to dance and have a night of fun. In the final few minutes of Cinderella, as our hero descends the stairs to meet her prince as she truly is, the narrator ponders:

Would who she was really be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take—to be seen as we truly are.

The people inside this club were members of the LGBTQA+ community. They had kindness in their hearts to give their love freely to whoever they desired, and had the courage to embrace their true selves, despite prejudice and hate.

I sit here looking at the staggering amount of mass shootings this year alone, watching as my country is divided by hate and fear and petty quarrels, and witnessing as a global threat continues to strike and inspire hate. I think the only solace for me is knowing that courage and kindness exists and will always exist. Brave, good people are out there, and I feel lucky to have found so many of them all the way from this tiny flat in Auckland.

Thank you, as ever, for reading my silly blog. My words are one of the innumerable amounts that the Internet holds, and at the end of the day, this means nothing. But even if just one person can read this and click out of it feeling a little lighter knowing that courage and kindness is prevalent, and maybe even embracing that powerful, five word phrase in their own lives, then I feel I have done at least something to remedy this horrible situation we find ourselves in.

Have courage and be kind.

You can contribute to the Go Fund Me page benefiting the victims of Pulse here, contribute to the OneOrlando Fund here, and contribute your words of kindness to the Cinderella Kindness Project here.

Photo from StockSnap.io

 

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