I’ve been glued to the internet trying to soak up as much information as I can on the London Riots. I have friends who, thankfully, have been just out of the line of fire but still too close for comfort. The whole thing is scary, especially when we realize the age of the rioters. The youth have attacked their own communities, like this 9-year-old boy who looted wine. I think we can all agree that whatever the reason for these riots, looting, destroying and killing is never the answer. As we watch London seemingly fall apart, over in America our debt crisis grows; in Israel, protesters demand social reform; in Syria, at least 1,600 people have been killed by the government; across the globe, cries for change, both peaceful and otherwise, have been covering the news. Some of us may feel like humanity is falling apart. After all, how can we possibly have faith in humanity as the world both literally and metaphorically burns down around us?
EASY! Let me show you how!
- Take a stroll around a park on the weekend. You’ll see families picnicking, children playing, dogs barking, squirrels nutting and smiles smiling. Parks are such a feel-good place. Go with friends, family or go alone. Either way, be observant and open to the happiness that’s around you.
- Watch a really great movie. I mean, a really great movie. Like Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List or Young Frankenstein. Movies about the good in people during the worst of times. Or how even the scariest of monsters can have a heart. Also, come on, Gene Wilder? How can he not cheer you up?
- Read HelloGiggles. Like, duh.
- Watch Military Homecomings. You can find them online or with Billy Ray Cyrus on TLC. I decided to look some up to make it easy and I’m just bawling like a baby now. 1, 2, 3 (seriously, you guys better love me, I’m dripping tears all over my computer), 4, 5. And now you all need to pitch in to help me buy a new computer and more tissues.
- Listen to sad music. Yes, sad music. Research shows that when we listen to sad music, chemicals in the brain are released that are similar to the chemicals released when we cry. These chemicals act as a tranquilizer and calm us down. Enjoy The Smiths and The Perishers. You’ll mope and wallow in the melancholy of it all and then you’ll slowly start to feel better. Once you do, put on something upbeat and joyful like Duran Duran or Noah and the Whale or Kate Nash. And then just dance your ass off.
- Go volunteer. A little more effort than the last few ideas? Perhaps. But if you’re not a typical volunteer type (which is okay, not everyone is!), start small. Clean out your closet and donate clothes to your local shelter or Goodwill. Empty your pantry of some canned goods and take them to a food bank. Or get down and dirty and join an organization to plant trees, clean up trash, read to underprivileged children, anything! There’s tons of ways you can help out, even if you just want to donate some money online.
- Save virtual clippings. Create a bookmark folder called “Faith In Us” or “People Dun Good” or “I LOVE WORLD!” and fill it with news articles, blog entries and other items you find around the internet that restore your faith in humanity. Share stories of good deeds in the comments and then bookmark this page so that when you’re feeling down, you can come back and remember that people do good things all the time.
- Never forget that those who cheat, steal, lie, hurt, destroy and kill are the minority. Looters and rioters may have attacked their own cities but as seen on Kate Nash’s blog, there are more people interesting in helping than there are interested in hurting. More people came out to clean up than came out to destroy. For every 1 tweet that encouraged more riots, there were 150 encouraging this to end and for friends and family to stay safe.
The world is a good place. Say it over and over again if you have to. The world is a good place where bad things happen. Once we lose our faith in humanity, we’ll never recover. Fight for justice, fight for safety, but don’t fight the idea of good people in the world who will stand there and fight with you, never against you. Allow yourself to be idealistic. Give up the cynicism for one day and believe with all your heart that the fires of London will be put out, that the governments around the world will hear their people, and that not every person who moves in next door is going to keep you up until 2am with their truly awful saxophone practicing. And even if they do, at least they’re a lover of the fine arts, right?
What restores your faith in humanity? Has anyone recently done anything to make you feel the warm and fuzzies? My latest warm and fuzzy feeling came from photographer Sonny Malhotra, who is offering free family portraits to anyone whose photo albums were destroyed in the London fires (his e-mail is on his website). Share your stories here and then let’s group hug!