It Can’t Happen to Me…

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Why is it that we never believe the worst can happen to us? We see other friends, families, or communities struggle with problems like addiction, death, racism, and sudden tragic events yet still think, “That will never happen here.”  Or, “That will never happen to ME.” Why the feelings of exceptionalism? Not one of us is exempt from tragedy. It can happen to any one of us, but we still make the assertion not in my backyard. Better yet, when we see our fellow man struggling, needing that hand up, that moment of compassion we look away and say, “not my problem.”

The real and stark truth of the matter is “it” can quickly be any one of us. It can be any one of our families. It can be any one of our communities. A family member you never dreamed would have a drug problem dies from an overdose. An accident at work can leave you in poverty. The death of a loved one can come swift or you can have many months to ponder the impending death and wonder why?  Or, it can suddenly be your friends that are locked down on a college campus in an unimaginable situation while you can only follow social media, news networks, and intermittent texts.  “It” suddenly hits home.

In my line of work where I study and teach difficult social problems, my students often start to feel like nothing we can do can make a difference in these really complex problems  They want to know what one person can do.  Hell, those of us in the field often feel the same way.  We have our moments where we wonder whether our research, community work and teaching really matter.  Are we REALLY making a difference?

In order for my reality to turn, I have to say, “yes.”  I have to say that even in the midst of tragedy we must all find hope for a better future.  We must all find our compassion to reach out and help our fellow community members and stop brushing off “those people.” We have to communicate when we know something is amiss with family or friends.  We have to bridge the divide and let people know they matter and we love them.  

Hope…

Empathy…

Compassion…

That is what keeps me going as I remember “it” can happen to me and when it does I pray I’m circled by people who will help provide this for me.  And, I pray I always remember to extend the three to those around me.

I’m praying for my Delta State University friends and colleagues tonight as “it” has happened to them. And, I’m seeing how in the midst of tragedy they are showing each other hope, empathy and compassion.

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