A World of Laughter, a World of Tears
“There is just one moon and one golden sun and a smile means friendship to everyone. Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all.” This second verse of one of Disney’s most recognizable songs worldwide really hit home to me yesterday. The world of laughter and a somber world of tears came together as two friends and I realized just how small a world it really is.
A friend posted that a much loved spouse had returned home from a business trip to a small country halfway around the world. After my first “Wow!”, I realized I knew someone in that small country so different from my own. The population of this planet is growing. At the turn of the century the population stood at 1.65 billion. Today we are seven billion, seven hundred and forty-five million and growing. Agriculture came into being around 8000 BCE and the world census was an estimated five million strong. By the first year of the new common era (1 AD or ACE), the growth rate of people on earth was .05% per year. Today it is 1.13% with over one million births expected during 2016. In spite of all this, it is still a small world. Insignificant me realized that I knew someone halfway around the world living in a small nation where another friend’s husband just spent a week – a connection between four people, four out of seven billion. It is a small world.
Two years ago I wrote about the New York City Fire Department helping police investigate a suspected drug laboratory at a house in Yonkers. Battalion Chief Michael Fahy led his men into the structure which exploded. Michael Fahy was born and raised in New York City and became an attorney. He had one brother and two sisters, one of whom was his twin. They were not surprised when Michael left his law practice to answer what he described as a “higher calling” and became a NYC firefighter. This past week the world became aware of this heroic man who lived every day in an extraordinary way when he died in that explosion. I became aware of Michael Fahy when a friend realized she had purchased her home last year from his parents. This friend lost her own mother two years ago due to a distracted driver who took his eyes off the road and stared at his mobile phone for just five seconds. In that five seconds he took a life almost as quickly as the explosion from the illegal drug activity ended the life of Michael Fahy. My friend is a college professor and native of Colorado but she knows too well the grief of losing a family member in an instant. “A world of laughter, a world of tears’…It’s a small world after all.
It is election season in the United States and volunteers are trying to help register people to vote. Few states automatically do this when people obtain driver’s licenses or state sponsored Identification cards and often people fail to make that extra trip to register. A year ago another friend was helping register people and found himself volunteering to do so at a homeless shelter. Suddenly he saw a familiar face, someone with whom he had worshipped. This friend is a humanitarian and yet even he was surprised to realize that the theory of “Anyone can become homeless” was now a reality in this woman standing in front of him.
The world of economics is not just for a chosen few and the effects of financial woes can and do happen to anyone. “It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears” and being unable to maintain a certain lifestyle will probably be experienced by many, especially those who are female in gender. Until there is euity in payroll, it’s a small and unfair world after all for women.
“There’s so much that we share” the lyric goes but I wonder…Do we really share? Are we really living with a thought making and seeing the connections we all have or do we simply go about our lives getting as much as we ourselves can personally garner? “That it’s time we’re aware” is perhaps the most telling way to describe this past week for me. I realized awareness that even though I myself have never traveled to some exotic locale, I know people in many such settings and we are connected.
Death, finances, and inequality are unfortunately a part of life. “A world of laughter and a world of tears” describes one’s overall living for almost all of us. What makes it extraordinary and even bearable is that we share both the good times and the bad. We need to create connections in a positive way so that we make our living count for something. Whether someone is an attorney, a firefighter, or a volunteer, we all have the opportunity to make the ordinary process of living extraordinary.
Pentecost is called the “Ordinary Time” but it really is not so ordinary after all. No single day is. They may all blur into a sort of oneness or sameness but they shouldn’t. We can make them count for something but showing kindness, concern, and realizing that “There’s so much that we share”. We have the power to make these ordinary times spectacular and meaning and by doing that, we gain strength to get through the tough times. We are in this thing called life together and we need to connect and help each other. Community makes heroes out of all of us when we participate and honors those for whom life is a struggle they meet as best they can.