I am angry.
I am angry because we live in a time where school shootings have earned the label of an epidemic. A time in which educational institutions have been transformed from safe havens of learning to potential battlegrounds. Where national discord is characterized more so by political agendas than by genuine sorrow over the actual heartbreaking tragedies that prompt the discussions. Where so many people are concerned more with their right to own semi-automatic weapons capable of mass destruction than with the 17 innocent lives brutally taken away and the countless before them.
I am angry because of the millions of people who have, until recently, been silenced about their experiences with sexual assault. The millions of people who were hurt in one of the worst possible ways but had to hide because of a society so prone to rejection and victim blaming. A society that teaches people to cover up and lay low more than it teaches that no means no.
I am angry because there are people in this world struggling to find food to eat while others can afford to have multiple homes and other unnecessary luxuries. I am angry because people are still judged and hated on the basis of simple attributes such as the color of their skin or the people that they love. I am angry because there are people everywhere dealing with domestic and other types of abuse, the targets of physical, mental and emotional pain for the very people who are supposed to be their biggest allies. I am angry because mental illness is still seen as personal weakness and because there is still no cure for cancer. For all of this and much more, I am angry.
However, I am also thankful.
I am thankful because I live in a country where I have the freedom to speak and believe what I want. A country where I have the right to an education and the opportunity to make a future for myself.
I am thankful for the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their courageous fight for change. I am thankful for the many who stand by them, who are willing to do what it takes to make things right.
I am thankful for the average 7 million people who donate blood for those in need each year. I am thankful for modern medicine and the cures it has produced for fatal diseases such as smallpox, SARS and polio. I am thankful that over two dozen countries now have marriage equality.
I am thankful that the ozone layer is repairing itself. I am thankful that life expectancy continues to rise while rates of child mortality and teenage pregnancy are declining. I am thankful for the many organizations such as the Thirst Project that are devoted to making the world a better place, organizations that anyone can join. For all of this and much more, I am thankful.
The world can seem like a pretty awful place, especially when you take even a quick glimpse at the news headlines on any given day. Some days, probably the vast majority of them, it seems like there is no escape from the reaches of atrocities such as violence, poverty and hate. Like we are perpetually within the grasp of negativity.
The important thing to remember is, for all of the terribleness in the world, there is even more good. There is always a bright side, and although it may take stumbling through the darkness to find it, it is worth it in the end.