As the dynamic team of Black Eyed Peas and Fergie circa 2003 once asked, “Where is the love?” We live in a world filled with hate: catty females grabbing each other by the hair in a drunken state fighting over the tall, dark and handsome mysterious stranger in the corner. Curly-haired-brunette, pink-wearing girls who squeal “you can’t sit with us” when you want to join them at lunch. Getting rotten bananas thrown at you just because. It all stems from petty things like hate, jealousy and competition. Nothing more.
The claws come out. Why? Sometimes there isn’t a tangible answer. I guess it just happens nowadays.
Excuse me as my inner hippie shines through, but have we forgotten how to love? Can’t we all just hold hands, sing “Kumbaya” around a gleaming fire and just get along? It’s okay – you don’t even have to give me a heartwarming embrace after our hippie session. However, I wouldn’t object.
In our ultra competitive ‘Type A’ society, I’ve begun to lose faith in people’s good intentions. At times, it’s like you just picked me up and threw me into one of those cheesy reality shows with the fake tans and bad hair dye jobs.
It’s okay – I know I’m coming across as a Debbie Downer.
For a fleeting moment, I forgot love actually existed.
Then came Saturday – and my faith was restored.
It all happened at Danie’s Day. For those of you who have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, Danie’s Day is a day founded in memory of my dear classmate, Danielle Rose. Danie always had a passion for working with children with special needs – specifically Down syndrome.
The first Danie’s Day was launched last April – where children with all types of special needs came to John Carroll for a day of singing, dancing, basketball, cookie decorating, Xbox playing, arts and crafts and just about anything else that you can classify as fun. The second annual Danie’s Day happened to be last Saturday.
I was blessed enough to organize the event both years. Amidst the chaos of attempting to pull off an event with over 80 children and around 200 or so volunteers, I remembered what it’s like to love.
These kids don’t care who you are or where you come from. They’ll grab your hand, give you a giant hug and tell you that you’re the best of friends.
They’ll fearlessly step up in front of a room, demand your attention and sing a full out musical theater number with a giant smile on their face, then give hugs to all that watched.
They’ll show you there are more important things in life than stressing over a test, fretting over a friend quarrel or freaking out that you used all your plus points at the Inn Between.
In the middle of running around and making sure the event ran smoothly, I paused, and scanned my surroundings. I saw nothing but smiling faces. I saw college students dancing with the children like they’ve known each other for years, even though they just met. I saw true love – right in front of me – right there in the student center at John Carroll. Who knew?
I’ve never been so proud of the John Carroll community for living out the Jesuit mission and being men and women for others.
These children showed me how to love again. They’re angels on earth, sent to remind us what happiness is. They showed me that love exists. We just have to be in the right frame of mind.
Sure, I worked with children who had Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Downs a good deal throughout high school – so this observation is nothing new for me. Yet, it’s difficult to constantly remember the good in the world when it feels like you’re surrounded by nothing by bad vibes.
Even at your darkest hour, there’s always someone who has it worse than you.
That’s when you remember that it’s okay to act goofy. It’s okay to dance like no one is watching. It’s okay to put away the claws. It’s okay to love.