Following the amazing upset by the Cleveland Cavalier’s during game 7 of the NBA finals, the TV station cut to their usual news broadcast. My roommate and I were relaxing on the couch, reflecting on the emotions we felt watching LeBron cry tears of gratitude. Not even a few minutes into the newscast, we couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the amount of terrible, heart-breaking pieces. Story after story of deaths, robberies and nation-wide acts of hate were being presented and the negativity was wearing on us quickly.
I studied journalism in high school and college, but even basic media literacy should cause you to understand that negative content generally gains viewership, and that the positive stories aren’t as in-demand as tales of unfortunate events. It’s important as a consumer to remember that a media outlet is still a business, thus always striving to make money as the primary goal.
Anyhow, our conversation ensued about how we can’t fathom how certain people could act in such merciless, destructive ways toward others. And I don’t feel qualified to speculate, nor do I feel this is the appropriate platform to do so, although I do firmly suggest that maintaining optimism, hope, and an awareness of what is going on in the world around you (without letting it making you jaded) is a very valuable practice.
A friend of mine sent this quote to me the other day, perfectly relating to this recent experience. The following is a response to the famous phrase from Gandhi: you must be the change you wish to see in the world.
“It’s easy to get frustrated by all the violence and pain being experienced around the world, and even easier to feel helpless about it. But rather than sitting around waiting for the world to change, it’s better to start making changes within your own sphere of influence. The theory behind this quote is that if everyone tended to his or her own selves, the world would be the way we all want it to be. What can you do today that would help make the world around you a better place? By making the changes you wish the world would make, you instantly and automatically make the world better.” -Jenna Phillips-Ballard
I’d like to leave you with another Ted talk (I’ve told you I love these), which I came across this afternoon. It’s less than 10 minutes, thought-provoking and inspiring — what more can you ask for? It’s called “I am the son of a terrorist. Here’s how I chose peace” and the video is attached to the bottom of this post.
In the video the speaker, Zak Ebrahim, says: “On a nightly basis, Jon Stewart forced me to be intellectually honest with myself about my own bigotry and helped me to realize that a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation had nothing to do with the quality of one’s character.”
I can’t decide which part I love more, the beautiful outcome of one person taking it upon themselves to accept and love others, or that he points out that you can find inspiration anywhere, including from people whom you don’t know personally. While his situation was out of his control, he managed his circumstances by creating his own positive environment and acknowledging the lessons his childhood experiences taught him.
Thank you to Mr. Ebrahim, for not only being courageous enough to share your story with the world, but also taking it upon yourself to cultivate a character you’re proud of, and loving people.