The Domino Effect (January 2014)
I want to say something profound and memorable. I wanted my first full post of 2014 to be something people spoke about to each other for days and weeks. And then I realized I had it all wrong. It’s not about the words I use. It’s not about how I feel about what I write. It’s about reaching out from the isolation of my home to the world. We are not alone. We never have been.
I’m a big believer in the importance of chance. You meet a stranger on the street and you smile in an abstract, bored sort of way. The person you smile at doesn’t realize you are bored and his spirits are lifted just a tiny bit and when he gets home to his wife he’s kinder. His wife spends a little longer getting dressed that night because she’s starting to believe she’s beautiful because her husband was kind. She speaks gently to her child that night and he goes to sleep feeling loved. The next day he goes to school and does exceptionally well on a test because he feels good about himself. His teacher is thrilled that her problem student has done well and she feels better about herself thinking she’s the reason. She goes home that night . . . All of this happened because one woman smiled at a stranger. It’s a domino effect.
We live on this little blue world made of dirt and water and people. There are a lot of us. There are wars and hunger, violence and apathy. Every day we deal with our own perceived inadequacies, our own diseases. But there’s one thing we must never forget: somewhere, someone is in much worse shape than we are. Somewhere, someone is watching their life blood seep through a gaping wound, alone and frightened. Somewhere, someone is watching as a loved one slowly succumbs to a painful and deadly disease. A woman is raped and beaten, killed. A man is shot dead by a stranger for his empty wallet. A woman feels the hands of a lover on her throat tightening. Children are shot by children, men and women are tortured, planes crash, people are dying of hunger, disease and greed.
You have a choice. I have a choice. We can give in, be victims and wallow in our own self-pity. Or we can take what quality of life we have, embrace it, relish it, enhance it if we can, and live. Reach out to the stranger next to you and smile. We are all in this together.