Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Happiness In Tragic Times

In northern latitudes, these early spring days bring on happiness as a physiological imperative.  There is birdsong in the air, and frogs chasing each other in the pond.  We go outside and look up at the sky and feel a rush of automatic DNA-mandated joy.

And then everything turns gray:  how can we feel like this when in a city close by people are hurting and mourning and afraid?

There has to be a solution, I thought this morning, alternately rejoicing at the sight of the sun and wincing at the radio's accounts of the suffering in Boston.  If we let awareness of human suffering in distant parts prevent us from being happy, I realized, we are guaranteed of dying without ever feeling happy again.  Worst of all, our unhappiness does nothing to alleviate that suffering.

So on days when tragedy hits nearby, let us do whatever is in our power to help:  send a few dollars, donate some blood.  And if that is not possible, let us perform small acts of kindness for our fellow humans or for the planet:  stop to chat with a lonely neighbor,  recycle those plastic bags.

And then go ahead and seize the day.  Breathe the air;  squint up at the blue sky.  You never know when a hawk will snatch the songbird, or the frogs perish from acid rain.  And cloudy weather always returns after a sunny day.

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