To Myself, When the World Has Gone Mad:
When the world has gone mad, don’t give up hope. Because it will, and you will want to.
Things will seem too big, too unfixable, too impossible to understand. When wrong gives rise to wrong and harm ignites harm, when reason is trampled by rising chaos, when everywhere you turn there is darkness, that is when you must hold on to hope the most.
When the world has gone mad, you will feel violated. You will watch war erupt on one front and then another. You will watch windows being smashed and businesses being destroyed and buildings burning to the ground. You will watch justice be perverted, criminal actions lauded as heroic, and communities devastate themselves. You will watch sickness claim the healthy and sadness consume those who once laughed. And you will feel as though an incomprehensible injustice has been done to you. You will feel that your humanity has been betrayed, because it has. There cannot be destruction without great injury to all that has been created.
When the world has gone mad, take inventory of your beliefs. Know what you believe and why, because you will inevitably be challenged. Don’t seek confrontation, but don’t be afraid of it either. As long as there is Right and Wrong, there will be conflict. The very nature of standing for one means the other will try to defeat you. Justice is a zero-sum contest, and people will take sides.
When the world has gone mad, don’t surrender to apathy, even though it’s easier not to feel than to feel, not to care than to care, not to contemplate than to absorb the hurt around you.
Do not become calloused, even though you will be tempted out of sheer practicality and survival. A hardened heart doesn’t prevent further injury; it only guarantees that sooner or later, it will shatter.
Don’t let yourself become cynical, because it happens quickly, and you will lose your capacity to help others, cripple yourself, and bring down those around you.
When the world has gone mad, remember that the most important form of government is government of self. You cannot legislate the hearts of man, but you can control the actions of your own.
Remember peace in the community begins first with peace inside of you, just as chaos in the community begins with chaos in the hearts of individuals.
Remember that human hands create, human hands destroy, and human hands can build again.
Remember that time does not stop, but the sun continues to rise, the hours turn to days and the days turn to seasons, and the same sky that grows dark with clouds also sends down healing rains.
When the world has gone mad, remember it has gone mad before. Brother has fought brother. Tyrants have ruled nations. Wars have caused more death and destruction than the earth itself could bear. Yet mankind has risen from the ruins of his own vileness, recoiled at his own horrors, and sought to repair that which he has broken.
When the world has gone mad and hurt and violence abound, do not grow weary in doing good.
When your efforts seem futile, remember they are not.
When you feel alone, remember you aren’t. When you feel alone, be grateful you haven’t given in.
When the world has gone mad, remember to be a neighbor.
A giver of hope.
Because if you feel like giving up, so do others. And if you do, so will they.
When the world has gone mad, and your heart is full with sadness and anger and frustration, remember the world is not yet devoid of joy.
When the world has gone mad, do not sink into the shadows, for this is when your voice needs to be heard.
A voice of hope.
Because it is only the hopeless who go mad.
And we live in a tremendous world.
Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner and Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story. Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.