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17 April 2013

Positivity helps overcome tragedies

When I found out about the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, I felt engulfed in a gray cloud. Even after I’d contacted all of my friends and family in Boston and found out they were OK, I couldn’t shake that unsettling feeling for the rest of the day.

Despite the bad news, little things throughout the day like having friends text me or message me on Facebook to check that everyone I knew was fine, were signs of genuine compassion that helped me remain positive.

But the next morning I awoke to more upsetting news. My former principal, a UM alumna and wife of a Frost professor who transformed my high school, had lost her battle with cancer. Again, I struggled to look on the bright side. I drove to school thinking about how much I didn’t want to fake a dynamic persona for a speech in my public speaking class.

That was until I heard something that caught my attention on the radio.

The host was talking about a Facebook post by comedian Patton Oswalt that quickly went viral. Listening to it read aloud, I understood how it received more than 200,000 shares in a matter of a day. Oswalt’s status pointed to videos showing people running toward the destruction to help out.

He ended with an empowering statement: “So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’”

Tragedies can make us come together, bring out the best in ourselves, and illuminate stories of heroism and positivity. The people of Boston have opened up their homes to tourists displaced from their hotels; local businesses welcomed in guests to use WiFi, charge phones and find company; and most heartwarming, some marathon runners that crossed the finish line reportedly continued on to run to Massachusetts General Hospital and donate blood for victims.

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder whether what you’re doing really matters if terrible things can happen suddenly. It’s an immobilizing sentiment. But when you think of the flip side, it no longer becomes a question of how to keep going; it is an answer to why we should move forward.

We owe it to ourselves and to the victims of tragedies – weaponed or genetic – to find positivity in these events and make an impact on those around us.

Lyssa Goldberg is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science.