Dear You,

Don’t let the world change your smile; let your smile change the world!

I don’t know who said it but it resonates with me, right into my soul. Dear beautiful young person, the world will try to change your smile. The darkness, the haters, the horrific things that are happening around us will try to change your smile, but if you lose yours the world has no hope…

Life can be full of disappointments. We treat people in a certain way and expect at least equal treatment in return. How often does it turn out exactly the opposite?

A simple example, whenever the opportunity arises you let someone into the line of traffic that you are in. They wave to you and you wave back. And then it is your turn to try to get into the line of traffic and no one stops to let you in. Are you angry? Of course you are! You may decide that you will not let people into the line of traffic anymore…

This is such a small example but think about more important things in life. Someone told me a story once, about a woman who was smoking in a bus shelter. He was angry because he wanted to wait inside the shelter and it was a place where it was forbidden to smoke. To avoid the smoke he left the bus shelter and stood outside, irritated. A short while later, a man walked into the shelter. An argument between him and the woman ensued and he began to beat her. The young man, who told me the story, was smiling at this point, telling me how much the woman deserved to get punched in the face after she had the nerve to smoke in the bus shelter. This made me weep, not just because of what happened to the woman, but that this young man found it in his heart to hate her so much, a complete stranger, that he felt she deserved this. What had happened in this young man’s life to make him so uncompassionate and seemingly heartless?

Disappointment, injustice, disrespectful treatment, inequality in relationships can all make us feel jaded and like we just shouldn’t bother. So let’s imagine a world where every time someone’s expectations were not met, they just stopped trying. Where would it end and where would we be? Where would our relationship with our parents be, if our parents didn’t keep trying and didn’t keep loving us?

Dogs are amazing creatures! They love us no matter our mood, if we forgot to give them food or water, whether we don’t feel like going for a walk. None of that matters, they wag their tail, they smile at us, they lick us, and never have a memory for any disappointments we may have brought. Humans are different though aren’t they? We remember everything and some of us even have the urge for a little payback.

Here is the truth of it. If you follow the nature you were born with, which is to be loving and kind, every time you check that instinct, someone else wins. When people are mean, and you are mean back, when people are unfair and you are unfair back, when people are hurtful and you are hurtful back, they win! You have let the world change your smile because you are behaving counter-intuitively. No matter what anyone else ever says or does, be true to what is inside you, the good, the kindness, the loving nature and the joy. Those are the things that will ultimately change the world, not the hatred and the anger and the fear that is out there. Be part of the solution, in fact, my dear beautiful young person, you are the solution!

– Sylvia Marusyk

*Proceeds from The Conversation Event benefit The Mobile Book Library for Homeless kids and families.

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