Last year I saw this excellent film, Pride, about a group of gay activists from 1984 London who go out to Wales to help a small mining town suffering during the National Union of Mineworkers strike. This film is about how two completely different causes and two completely different groups of people can come together and support each other, and learn to love each other, simply because they are both suffering in some way, and they want to alleviate the suffering of others, somehow, even if it’s just to acknowledge the suffering. The film is beautifully done, and has left a permanent impact on my life.
I suffer from a problem called “judgmental attitude.” I try to stop it as often as possible, but sometimes it comes through. Most of the time it comes through in ways that no one ever sees, particularly not “liking” something that someone has posted on Facebook because I envy them or I somehow have the audacity to believe they don’t deserve the thing. I mean, there was a time in my life that I refused to “like” things because of a prediction about future society that George Orwell made in 1984 (but that’s another blog post), but I got over that period of my life and I should be in the swing of things now, but sometimes I don’t actually like something because it makes me sad about my own life, or has nothing to do with me, and it’s hard to show support in those moments.
However, after several paradigm shifts, including the one I got from the aforementioned film, I have now adopted a much more pleasant attitude, which I’ll call “happy for one’s happiness.” If someone posts a thing that is clearly making them happy, I’ll “like” it, even if the thing would not make me happy, or if I am envious of the thing, or if the thing is trivial. Because I want to show people that I support their efforts to be happy. It is not easy to be happy in this world, and I admire people who make that consistent effort (yep, happiness takes consistent effort. Also another blog post).
What about the unhappy times, though? Isn’t that were support from others is even more important? Absolutely. But it’s a different kind of support.
I have this incredible system with two of my best friends where all we need is to send a text to each other including the words “pray for me,” and we know it’s going to happen, no matter what the situation that calls for prayer is. Sometimes it’s serious, like the declining health of my friends’ babies, but sometimes it’s inconsequential, like “I can’t handle being around people today.” Do I really need heavenly help with that? Probably not. But it’s nice to get the support of my friends throughout it.
In response to the atrocities that occurred in Paris this week, it is incredible to see friends all over the world show their support for France on Facebook. For most of us, what are we going to do? Without the skills and the location to help Parisians directly, there isn’t much we can do besides show Paris that we are thinking of them, we are horrified by what happened, and we are praying for them, regardless of who you pray to. All of us outside of Europe could very easily ignore what’s happening in Paris, because there is little we can do to directly impact them. But many of us have chosen not to ignore the Parisians’ suffering. The beautiful side effect of tragedy is always to remind us that we are all human beings together, and most of us value life, and life is worth fighting for.
I think that most people simply want to know they are not alone, no matter what they are going through, whether it’s happy or sad, disgusting or terrifying, or rage-inducing. I wish I could make it my personal mission to help every person feel like they are not alone, but I obviously can’t. What I can do is show support for the people immediately around me.
And on that note, I’d like to shout out to a group of people who showed me support last night, in a very trivial thing that meant a ton to me. As one may have noticed, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I am beyond obsessed with The Hunger Games. Yesterday I threw myself a Hunger Games themed birthday party complete with competitions and prizes (yeah, I’m almost 30 but I still throw birthday parties appropriate for a seven-year-old). There was a great turn out of friends from all different parts of my life, and I was genuinely touched that so many of my friends volunteered as tributes to make my dreams of throwing a Hunger Games themed party a reality (yeah, it was a legitimate dream of mine. Next step: Hunger Games themed wedding. Haha). It’s a small thing, but I personally really feel loved when people show up to things that I organize, so thanks, all my friends who showed your solidarity with my Hunger Games obsession. You’re the awesomest.