Saturday, September 10, 2011


My co-workers marvel at my ability to always find the positive side of difficult situations or dilemmas. Regardless of how things ago, I always seem to find the upside. At times, this trait can be annoying to others, but I can't imagine seeing the world any differently. To be a Debbie Downer and only focus on what's missing, what's wrong or the evils of our world is just intolerable.
But, I am only human and I too have my negativity-filled weak moments just like everyone else. In the days following the 9/11 attacks, it was hard to keep depression and sadness away. After many hours of watching news coverage of the attack aftermath and listening to talk of death, grief and war, I struggled to stay positive. It was during those struggles that I knew I needed to change my focus. I needed to start looking for the upside in this tragedy.

So, I started devouring any news stories I could find about heroism, compassion and kindness following the attacks. I read, watched and listened to tales featuring the light of our humanity in the face of such viciousness like how New York firefighters stopped to carry the lifeless body of their beloved chaplain Father Mychael Judge who died while administering last rites to the fallen at the World Trade Center to a nearby church or the co-worker who stayed with an overweight colleague who could no longer go down the stairs in one of the towers because he didn't want him to be alone or the countless of stories of selflessness during and after the attacks.

Looking at the positive outcomes instead of just the negative ones helped me find and hold on to the hope that everything would be ok. It was like a lifesaver for my soul. The idea of living in a world filled with such darkness, hatred and violence was eating away at my spirit and grabbing on to a more hopeful outlook for mankind made moving forward so much easier. I needed to believe that we could be better, we were better, than those who perpetrated the attacks.

I know humankind has the ability to do exactly what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested that we are able to do --  forge "out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." Even in the face of such cruelty, injustice and violence during the civil rights movement, King could still stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and believe that his dream that one day we will all get along peacefully would come to fruition. His optimism and hopefulness for a better future for his children and all mankind inspired so many others to manifest the world of King's dreams. Are we there yet? No. The terrorist attacks in 2001 and other atrocities since demonstrate that there is still much more work to be done.

Just like that Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick, Jr. movie title suggests hope can float. Hope can keep us from drowning in a sea of inhumanity and it can anchor us by serving as a life goal to aspire to. Each day, I try to live a life that generates more positive ripples in life's pond than destructive ones. If everyone tried to live their lives with such optimism and hopefulness, what a wonderful world this would be.

While I wish the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania never occurred, I do miss the spirit of teamwork, togetherness and kindness that resulted. I enjoyed its healing presence at the time and long for the day when we can be that way all the time. With hope, my soul feels lighter and rooted. It's a feeling I wish more people would embrace and model for future generations how to live life with a "glass half-full" perspective.

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