August 20, 2017


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U of M student delivers message of hope amid the despair

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/4/2013 (1586 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I left work Monday night distraught and depressed.

Boston is my favourite American city, full of energy and history. I've stayed just around the corner from the site of the bombings. I was married to a runner, and still know people in the running community. One of my editors has run Boston three times.

The images of blood and torn limbs and panic brought back flashes of 9/11 and that helplessness in the face of evil. I called my mother first, just to check in. My daughter called me, numb and upset. There weren't adequate words for any of us.

Tuesday morning, I got an email from 19-year-old Katie Eva. The University of Manitoba science student shared her Facebook posting, an eloquent reaction to the carnage. Eva, who spent the first nine years of her life living on First Nations reserves in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba because of her father's work, is attuned to human suffering. Her email, as sweetly naive and hopeful as it was, seemed a tonic for my despair.

Here's what she wrote:

"The world needs to change.

"If you haven't figured out yet why, I encourage you to watch the news about the bombing in Boston, or read about Rehtaeh Parsons, or even just reflect about things that happen everyday in our lives that may never reach the press.

"Just because these events don't specifically impact our lives doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye. We have a responsibility to change the way we see the world because we can. The way we treat other people. What we choose to live for. We have the means, the opportunities, to make a difference. Chances that other people do not have.

"I honestly believe that all the world needs is more compassion. Accepting people and loving them for every part of them that makes them different. Everyone has experienced struggles that may have changed them in ways that someone could never begin to understand until they've experienced them for themselves. Everyone has hit rock bottom at one point or another. Everyone has been hurt, has hurt someone, or has seen the people around them hurt.

"But at the end of the day we can either choose to sit around and do nothing about it, or change ourselves so that the future will be different.

"Smile at a stranger. Volunteer. Do something for someone who could never do something for you in return. Be the type of person who makes other people feel good about themselves. Spend some time thinking about the people you hate, and why you hate them. Put yourself in another person's shoes and imagine what life is like for people different than yourself.

"Who cares what someone is wearing, where they grew up, their sexual orientation, how tall they are, what colour their skin is, or any choices or mistakes they may have made?

"Chance is the only thing that makes us different. The chance that we could have been born into a different life. Yes, maybe it could have been an easier one, but if that's the case you should be that much more motivated to change things so other people don't have to experience what you may have.

"And always remember there is someone else who has it worse.

"And if you don't think you deserve the good life you were given, go out into the world and earn your life. Don't waste it. Love yourself so that you can in turn love the people who love you, and the people who don't. Or the people who can't. Because often times those are the people who need it the most.

"And at the very least, if you read this and have absolutely no idea what I'm trying to say... just please think about it. Don't dismiss it. I love all of the people in my life, as I'm sure all of you do, and I don't want them to live in a world where people bomb each other probably because of how other people may have made them feel, or judge people for things they can't change, or hurt others just because they may have been hurt themselves."

When we spoke, Eva said she felt the impact of the bombings in part because she is a runner and, like many runners, had dreams of Boston. But she said she and her friends are already fearful about the future of their world, a place where sexual violence and bullying are common, a world where cruelty is common currency.

I'm sharing her words because she has hope. This week, we all need belief in the prevailing power of goodness.


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