Acknowledge humanity’s altruism, don’t lose faith

Lately, I’ve been noticing a pattern of thinking that is dominating social media and day-to-day conversations. In the wake of events such as the Boston Marathon bombing, the war in Syria and even local events like all the robberies occurring around campus, I am constantly hearing the same phrase again and again: “I’ve lost all faith in humanity.”

And I think the first few times I heard it, a part of me agreed. Who wouldn’t? The horrifying incident at Sandy Hook was only last December, and since then, various reports of children as young as four or five years old engaging in gun violence are surfacing. Of course, the logical conclusion is that humanity is losing it. 

Recently though, I’m getting sick of it. As awful as the world is at times, more often than not we cannot forget that humanity is not some abstract, inanimate concept that we can all condemn. We cannot separate ourselves from humanity because we are humanity. Merely expressing our loss in faith as an attempt to detach ourselves from humanity doesn’t cut it. The expression is wrapped in a form of pseudo-self validation.

As humans, it’s only natural to feel good after acknowledging an issue; however, we have to realize that we can and need to do more. Humanity is not the responsibility of a police department or national and international governments. It is the obligation of civilization. 

Moreover, as humans it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the moments when humanity does triumph and altruism shines through. Just recently in Georgia, a school bookkeeper defended her elementary school and spoke to a gunman with compassion and love. And what’s more astonishing than that is that the gunman listened, stepped down and nobody was hurt. In Pennsylvania, a 5-year-old girl was abducted from her front yard and instead of passively observing, two young boys followed her on their bikes until the driver let the girl go.

Anger and outrage at the world is also normal, and even a healthy response sometimes, but a society has to take a few steps back to leap forward. In regards to that, I don’t think we can deny that parts of the world are better than they were before. At least in the U.S., I can comfortably say women have more rights than they did 100 years ago. The playing field is not completely level, and it’s far from perfect, but we have progressed from where we were before. In the 1970’s, women were making 60 percent of what males earned in the same position. More recently women are making about 82 percent of what men are making.

Obviously the situation is not perfect and not where it should be at for our day and age, but the important message is that we have improved. We have progressed from where we once were and that means we will keep moving forward and continue to transcend adversity on a national and global level.

I’m not saying we should all be optimists, but I am saying being a pessimist isn’t helping any cause. That Daria-esque feeling of “losing faith in humanity” is definitely a great first step to solving our issues — it shows passion and awareness — but it’s not a solution. Simply stating your distress with the world isn’t and shouldn’t be good enough.

I’m not saying it’s possible or even feasible for just any one individual to change the world, but it is possible to self-reflect, introspect and change yourself. And what is humanity apart from a conglomeration of the thoughts, feelings, notions and actions of multiple yourself’s? Bottom line is, as a society we must progress, but to accomplish this we cannot forget to progress as individuals. 

Sehar is a junior in AHS. She can be reached at [email protected]