Cherishing the gift

April 18th, 2013

As a sports guy, I was originally planning on writing this column about Kyrie Irving and the future Cleveland Cavaliers. But, as we’ve all learned by now, life doesn’t always go as planned. And life sure as hell didn’t go as planned for the runners who competed in the Boston Marathon this past Monday, April 14.

When the 27,000-plus marathon runners woke up in Boston on Monday morning, I’m sure they didn’t envision themselves being involved in a bombing that left hundreds injured and three dead. Even more disturbing, one of the deaths was that of an eight-year-old child.

When that eight-year-old boy woke up on Monday morning, he probably envisioned a day full of joyous competition and early-spring weather in downtown Boston. What should have been a celebratory occasion for thousands turned into a national tragedy and resulted in the death of a third grader.

So what do we do next? What do we, as a culture, as a country, as a human race, do next? In any crisis situation, you have two options: rise to the occasion or fold like a stack of cards.

When I say “rise to the occasion,” I’m saying quite clearly that it’s time for us, all of us, to put our foot down and say enough is enough. How many planes have to crash into buildings, how many elementary school shootings, how many bombs must go off before we, as a culture,  decide that enough is finally enough.

Enough of the violence. The anger. The hatred. Our culture feeds off of those unsettling elements, and I can promise you this: it doesn’t work.

This isn’t a change that will happen overnight, nor is it a change that will be easy. But we, as a culture, are desperately in need of a culture change – and we need it now. We need to get back to our roots, our basic human elements. Somewhere along the line, we, as a culture, lost our compassion and empathy for others. Most of us live our lives full of hatred and anger, focusing on the negative and living with a pessimistic view of this gift called “life.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of living in a world where the top stories on the nightly news are based on shootings, bombings, stabbings and the overall topic of fear. This isn’t how life is meant to be lived. Rather, this isn’t the way that life should be lived. And it doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way.

Unfortunately, it is this way. We live in a world where we can’t send our kids to their first day of kindergarten without thinking “What if?” We live in a world where an eight-year-old boy can’t heroically compete in a marathon race and return home safely to his family at night.

So ask yourself: Did Monday’s tragedy in Boston really bother you? Or did it just upset you until you changed the channel and forgot about it? I know the answer for me, and I’m shaken to the core.

We shouldn’t have to live in fear of what may happen, but instead we should live our lives with excitement and enthusiasm, embracing what’s ahead. The world, and our lives, shouldn’t be run by fear and violence. Because when you live in fear, you’re not really living.

We need to be appreciative of what we have in our lives while we have it, and we need to take a stand to make a cultural change now. If we don’t make that change now, when will we? It’s now or never. Our future isn’t promised – we learned that on Monday.

Next time you’re upset, make sure it’s over something that’s worth getting upset about. We shouldn’t allow our days to be ruined because McDonald’s messed up our order or because we scuffed a new pair of shoes.  After all, if you have your loved ones and a place to sleep at night, life can’t be that bad.

Bottom line: Show some compassion, some empathy towards those around you. Life isn’t easy for anyone, so lets all make it a little easier on each other.