It’s no secret that the past week has been filled with shock, rage, fear, and anger from all sides. With the election aftermath, it’s easy to fall prey to the idea that America is falling apart and that there is no goodness left in the world. After watching all of the angry speeches, riots, and divisions, it’s easy to believe there’s no sense in even trying anymore—goodness is gone.
Fear and hate seem to have become our rhetoric, and so many have given up on the belief they can make the world a better place.
I’m not a political person, and I don’t claim to take a side in the election debates, debacles, and debauchery. I’m simply here to say that no matter who is running the country or what side of the political spectrum you land on, goodness can still prevail.
In the past week, despite the media frenzy about how things are falling apart, I’ve still seen goodness.
I see goodness in my high school classroom when my students help each other, offer a kind word of encouragement, or put their best foot forward in their academic careers. I see their hearts when we talked about a charity in Kenya and they wanted to help. I see goodness when they discuss the future and their role in shaping the world. I see goodness when I think about their compassionate, accepting hearts pursuing their dreams and finding ways to impact the world.
I see goodness in strangers as they put money into the red kettles that have already appeared across our town. I see goodness in the food drive at my church when people gather to help our neighbors in need. I see goodness in the neighbor who rakes our leaves just to be kind. I see goodness in the driver who lets me go first because she isn’t in a hurry or in the man in the grocery store who lets the busy mother of three go ahead of him. I see kindness in every person who holds a door for another, in the waitress who smiles as my grandfather asks “what” for the tenth time. I see kindness in the hospital nurse reassuring a patient or in the stranger in the Emergency Room looking out for the ill woman beside her. I see goodness in the selfless empathy of people.
I see goodness in my friends mothering their children, teaching them to be kind, giving, compassionate individuals. I see goodness in their teaching of principles such as acceptance, love, and respect.
I see goodness in the news. I see goodness in the story of a ten-year-old girl who chooses to do random acts of kindness, reminding us all that we have the power to change the world. She takes away our excuses, our fear, our tendency to say “it’s not possible” by showing us just how much power we have to make a difference.
Despite all the negativity surrounding our country, I still see the possibility to achieve, to dream, and to make a difference.
Some may call it naïve. Some may say because I am not a part of specific groups I cannot claim fear shouldn’t exist or that dreams are still alive. I get that, and I appreciate that.
Still, I think we can choose to overcome if we’re willing to work together and as individuals. I may not control the country. I may not control our governmental decisions or policies. I do, however, control my own actions. I control how I view other people. I control how I spend my time—wallowing in pity and despair, or getting off the couch and trying to help others. I can choose to believe in goodness, and I can choose to advocate for that goodness through meaningful actions.
We cannot use the election, the government, or the media’s focus on negativity as an excuse to give up on a better world. We cannot give up on goodness, and we cannot succumb to the pessimistic bubble that says evil prevails.
We must make a personal choice, each and every one of us, to believe in possibility, to be optimistic, and to get up and devote ourselves to making the world better.
We cannot let go of the great American vision to better our tomorrows by dedicating our lives to protecting our values at all costs. We cannot let go of the dream of goodness, of selfless giving, and of peace, no matter how hopeless things can sometimes seem.
Lindsay Detwiler is the author of five novels and a high school English teacher.