THIS is Who We Are

THIS is Who We Are

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu

With every terrorist attack, every bright future destroyed and every blood-soaked crime scene, I gain more clarity in this life. I am no longer shocked by man’s propensity to do harm. I am no longer surprised by the lengths a person will go to for their twisted faith or to feed their addiction. I am not confused by what evil is.

What I – what WE – have to constantly be reminded of is that love is so blindly bright, evil scurries away from it like cockroaches at the flip of a switch.

Today that reminder came to me in a simple story.

Roberto Olivero is haunted by memories of a cruel stepfather who would mercilessly humiliate and beat him, his sister, and their mother. Roberto forces a smile when he talks about his mother. “She was a long-suffering, radiant woman with light brown eyes. She was beautiful,” he said. She made sure when Roberto wasn’t sleeping or doing chores, he was reading or writing. Every day he was tormented by his stepfather, but he found refuge in his school work, and he excelled. One day, a school counselor told Roberto about a program at the University of Santa Barbara that would place him there for the summer in preparation for the university. Without hesitation, he told the counselor he couldn’t do it. His stepfather would never allow it. A few days later, the director of the program came to the house and asked if he could speak to his father. Just as Roberto thought, the discussion was not pleasant. He was told he’s not going anywhere. That night as he slept on the cot in the kitchen where he slept every night, he was awakened by the sound of a match lighting a cigarette. It was his mother sitting in the kitchen in the dark. She inhaled the cigarette deeply and in a steady, stern voice she said, “Roberto, I packed you a suitcase. It’s in the garage. Leave and do not look back.” And he did. “I left her with that cruel man and the guilt of that is with me even today,” he said. “But, oh if you could have seen her face when I graduated. She was so happy.” Roberto wonders out loud where he would be today without the selfless love of one woman – the belief she had in him and the courage it must have taken for her to let him go. This. This is who we are.

As long as this Earth exists, so too will evil. But love is greater. Light doesn’t worry about the dark. It just shines.

Shine today.

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