I don’t pretend to know more about current events than I do, and I definitely don’t know as much as I should. I struggle to keep up, and admittedly, sometimes I turn a blind eye to avoid thinking about the cold hard facts. This is a privilege I have, and a privilege I recognize.
Attacks in Baghdad, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Turkey, and France in July alone should convey the chaos of the world, but do not even begin to scratch the surface of everything that is wrong. Social equality, racial tensions, poverty, terrorism—these terms do not convey the sense of hopelessness felt by people everywhere, nor do these terms come close to covering the plethora of issues prevalent on this planet. I’m not the best source of this type of information, and I don’t claim to be, so I’ll leave this as it is.
This weekend, my classmate, Drew Esquivel, was killed on the street by a drunk driving NYPD officer. I didn’t know Drew well, but I had been around him long enough to put a personality to the name, and I cannot shake the sense of loss. This was the same feeling I had when my multivariable calculus classmate, Phoebe Wang, lost her life during the first semester of sophomore year. This was how I felt freshman year of high school, when a senior, Aydin Salek, lost his life. These names haunt me, because glimmers of their personalities are etched into my brain. Like many others who have had their lives even briefly scraped by these individuals (and countless others), I can only wish I had the privilege of knowing them more—to wonder about their lives, their interests, their deepest thoughts, their biggest dreams.
Maybe it is the location, the social proximity, the timing, or the fact that it was completely driven by another individual’s blind stupidity, but I cannot get the incident out of my head. I’ve had important lives taken from me “before their time.” I grew up immersed in loss, yet this seems so different. I’ve always tried to live by the philosophy to never save things for the “right” moment, to never take things for granted, to never miss an opportunity to show people how much they mean to me, to be kind to people even if there isn’t a “reason” to be. And although I’ve been able to do all of these things to an extent, they now seem so inadequate. I’ve never lived in a time when a missed call or slow text responses send me into slight panicked thoughts. I’ve never dreaded the loading of the news page or worried so much about people not immediately in my proximity. I’m a believer that positive thoughts hold some sort of power, but it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain these thoughts with everything that is happening. Sometimes I just have to stop and take deep breaths (and splurge my thoughts of how much people mean to me at them, hoping that they’ll realize even a fraction of what I feel).
The most overwhelming part of this is that this was one incident that affected me so much because it was too close for comfort. However, there are incidents every day, all over the world. Some of them undocumented, some of them lost in flurry of what media deems most important, some of them completely overlooked. There are shootings, bombings, murders, and these are only the issues that remove lives from earth. There are diseases, gross inequalities, hateful attacks, poverty issues, environmental issues, structural issues…the list goes on. The list goes on. And that’s what feels the most helpless. No matter what issues we decide to focus on or put on efforts towards or even spend a moment of our days thinking about, there is always more. The list goes on.
I didn’t write this to find solace, although I was hoping it would sort out some of my relentless stream of thoughts. I don’t think it did, but that’s okay. I am not looking away from the cold hard facts right now.
For now, all I can do is truly cherish every moment of the people around me. To take the time and effort to really get to know people as individuals, to see what makes each person unique, and to truly sense how much the world would lose without them here.
So to the people reading this, and I know who you are, I love you. You are each meaningful to me in drastically different ways, but each of you have supported me, believed in me, loved me, and had some part in getting me to where I am today. I can only hope to have done (and continue to do the same) for each of you.