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Four Years at the Mount - Junior Year

Exchanging Sorrow for Love

Julia Mulqueen

(April, 2011) Once when I was a little girl, I asked my mother a rather innocently naive question about the world and our connection to the people with whom we share this world. We had been listening to the radio in the car and had just been informed about a tragedy that had occurred in a country many miles from ours. "Mom, why do we care what happens in other countries?" I had asked her. She seemed more than a little taken aback at my uninformed world view, but nonetheless she began to gently explain to me that life is about more than us. She told me that we as human beings have a deep responsibility to care for, respect, and, most importantly, love our fellow human beings. It was for this reason that we must always exhibit a true concern for what is occurring to others around the globe, and thus, we should watch the news and stay informed in order to offer needed support and love to our fellow brothers and sisters who might be enduring tragedy.

Her eloquent speech about the essence of our humanity and our duty to others was for the most part lost on my young intellect. Her words have remained with me, however, and as I have grown, I have begun to realize just what my mother was trying to impress upon me all those years ago. I have started to witness a deep vein of similarity that runs through all humans, especially in light of the episode in Chile and the recent tragedies in Japan.

The incident in Chile this fall was an exceptional demonstration of the beautiful inclination of people to care for others no matter if they know them personally or not. When news reporters first informed the public of the accident, it seemed that yet again tragedy had struck the world. Indeed, it was difficult to keep hopeful as the days, and the weeks, and then months passed. Then quite suddenly relief was upon Chile and her trapped miners, and one by one they were rescued. The entire rescue mission took almost an entire day, and news stations featured continuous live coverage of the incredible occurrence. Fortunately, I was blessed with the privilege of watching the entire event. I remained transfixed both by the incredible rescue feat and by the astounding care and compassion that the entire world had come together in expressing for the Chilean miners and their families. I found it exceptionally beautiful that we as human beings could experience such a deep connection to others without even meeting them! I was shocked at the flagrant display of heartfelt compassion that so many people exhibited for all those in Chile who were affected by the event.

Still more recently, I was moved by the events following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Despite the fact that not all Americans have personal ties to Japan, many were watching the news coverage with worry in their eyes and sadness in their hearts. We may not have physically been there to experience firsthand the tragedy of the natural disasters, but many were still personally concerned and demonstrated a great deal of compassion for the victims of the calamity.

Thus in both of these recent world events, I have seen the great love of which humanity is capable. Thousands of miles, ethnic diversity, and differing political ideologies fade dramatically in the glow of the love that humans can express for one another. We really do experience deep personal bonds with our brothers and sisters, especially in the light of tragedies and misfortune. Yet again, I am reminded of the question I posed to my mother so many years ago, and I feel I am now much closer to understanding fully her answer. We care about what happens to others in the world because they are quite truly our brothers and sisters. Even in the midst of war, hatred, and violence, we are each capable of pausing for a time to extend love and support to our fellow humans. We are capable of forgetting the obstacles that divide us and can choose to focus on the extraordinary qualities that unite us.

Despite the fact that some point to terrifying natural disasters and horrifying misfortune as indications of the disheartening lack of good in our world, I have actually seen that this is not the case. The tragedies and absolute sorrow that we have experienced recently have in reality pointed to the wonderful good that can come from calamity. We have come together as one world. We have seen that the chilly walls technology has built between us can come crumbling down in an instant. Even though we may sometimes feel disconnected from our fellow man, we can have hope. We can hope, because no matter how far we may feel from others, we are really just a step away. Humans can and will always stand together, and even in the face of disaster, we can always be secure in the knowledge that the walls that separate us are no match for the deep love that so incredibly binds us together as brothers and sisters.

Read other articles by Julia Mulqueen