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How to Stay Optimistic When the World Feels Dark

How to Stay Optimistic When the World Feels Dark

Since November, I’ve felt a tiny bit more helpless with every passing week. But after this week, it’s more than a tiny bit. I feel beside myself. The world is a dark place, and it’s not getting any better. What can I do?

The riots in Charlottesville—and the many other incidents that have happened this year—feel senseless. So senseless that it can honestly be hard to wrap your head around them. This is something we’ve been struggling with recently, too. After all, America’s supposed to be about progress. So we want to know: What is going on? And how can we help? 

As 15-year-old Tanya Francesca said, “I feel somewhat dumbfounded, because history does repeat itself. I guess I'll never be able to understand white supremacists or how someone could be so hungry for superiority. Most of the Nazis at Charlottesville were white males, and as a colored woman living in a third world country, I [don’t get] what they're fighting for. They're white men. They have everything they could possibly want on a silver platter and privilege at the end of their fingertips.”

It can be easy to curl up in a ball and scroll through tons of like-minded comments on Facebook, but here’s the thing: We can’t. We have to educate ourselves on opposing views and have difficult convos with people who think differently than us. 

Megan Mann agreed, noting, “I've been reading more and more and frequently discussing with others what's going on in an effort to understand how we even got here.” She's right. Talking it out—even if it’s talking it out awkwardly with people you disagree with—is often the best first step.

Want more ideas about how to help? How about a billion? A true hero compiled a 14-page open-source Google doc—although by the time you read this, it’ll likely be 20 pages long because of the sheer brilliance of the thing.

But if that feels overwhelming, here’s a start. You can donate money to organizations like the Charlottesville Chapter of the NAACPCharlottesville Pride, and Charlottesville Solidarity Legal Fund. If you can’t donate cash, donate time. Counter-protest. Get schooled on the situation, with long-reads and mini-documentaries (like this onefrom Vice!) and even your history books—because learning from mistakes made in our country's past can help us move forward.

Just take it from 16-year-old Aishwarya Singh. "I know one thing: If MLK and Rosa Parks were able to make a change, then so can I and so can you," she said. "If the negative and bigoted part of history can repeat itself, then so can the positive and peaceful parts. That all starts with us."

Let's do it.

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