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Doing My Part

Brinley Koenig, Staff Writer

The world gets worse every day. Even as someone who loves the news and loves politics, I recently got to the point where following current events became too disturbing to handle. It became painful to open twitter, painful to turn on the tv and painful to live in a world seemingly lacking any good.
Then I held the pieces of a 20-year-old girl’s first and only home in my hands.
I went to Houston to help with flood cleanup. The flood waters rose almost to the ceiling of most houses, so we had to demolish everything- the walls, the carpet and the cabinets- to stop the spread of mold.  Everything people owned piled up in ginormous stacks on their curbs.

The victims of Harvey became more than a bucket to put my spare change in. They became real.

They became real as I watched pieces of damp, mold-covered drywall float to the ground and join the pile of remains on the bare floor of the house a 20-year-old had lived in her whole life. As I watched a 10-year-old boy walk into his room, now just slats of wood surrounded by a few puddles, in plastic-bag-covered shoes. As I took a sledgehammer to a family’s kitchen cabinets and watched puddles of Harvey’s water escape from the bottom- two weeks after the hurricane hit. As I lifted a soggy cross from a family’s shelf and cringed as I placed it into the pile of the rest of their mold-infested belongings on the curb.

I could not understand how the people could still stand there. How they didn’t collapse onto the puddles on their bare floors amongst the rubble of their walls and the ten-foot tall pile of their belongings on the curb. Harvey appeared just as destructive up close as it had through twitter and television.

But the good in the world does not appear on the news.

The good in the world appears, quietly, in the lives of the people hurt by tragedy. In Houston, it appeared in the form of volunteers coming to save families from the invisible dangers in their flooded houses. It came in the form of neighbors handing out cold bottles of water and free lunches to those volunteers. It came in the form of people coming together for a greater cause.

The good in the world appears on a smaller scale all around us too. It appears when the people around us help us fight our silent battles. It happens when a stranger compliments another or a friend reaches out to another friend at just the right time or when a teacher takes a moment out of her day to motivate a student. It happens when people look outside of themselves and try to see the bigger picture of people without knowing the bigger picture.

There is good in the world. We just have to look for it.

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