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Column: Where’s the light?

Hannah Ortega talks about finding the positives in a broken world

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Above: Hannah Ortega performs an original poem titled “Where’s The Light?”

The world is infected.

A plague of death, destruction, fear, and sorrow has rooted itself deep into the soil of the Earth and the hearts of its people, and with every bomb dropping and school shooting and trafficking incident the plague spreads.

The sickness touches everything and everyone. There is no escape- the Internet is constantly there to remind you of the infestation.

People try to run, try to hide, but no one is safe from the plague anymore. No one is safe from the terror and the pain and the horrors. Sooner or later the illness creeps into everyone’s bodies and blinds them, causing them to see only darkness.

There appears to be no light.

Not any that they can see.

But the light still exists.

Though the plague forbids them to see it, the light is still there.
The hope still exists.

That can be so difficult to believe when you see all of the horrific headlines in blaring, bold black words. “Shooting,” “war,” “death,” the headlines say. I watch the news every morning, so as soon as my eyes focus and my mind is torn from my dreams, I am slammed with such headlines and left to shake my head and ask, “What has this world come to? Where is the light?”

In order to defeat the darkness and make the world a brighter place, you must find that little spark of hope within yourself. ”

— Hannah Ortega

But believing that there is no hope and light left is just the plague of the broken world festering in your heart and clouding your vision. It is what the evil of the world wants you to believe, and if you accept it as true, then the evil is victorious, for everyday is a battle against darkness, a battle of the mind and the heart.

In order to defeat the darkness and make the world a brighter place, you must find that little spark of hope within yourself. You must protect it, nurture it, and help it grow until it is not a faint glimmer but a shining light, radiating out of your being and touching those still trapped in shadow.

Finding inner hope is no easy task, but once it’s within your grasp, it’ll never slip free. So how do you discover that hope? Well, for me, my hope comes from my faith. I know that everything, including bad things, happen for a reason and are all apart of God’s plan. I know that, one day, Jesus will return and take his people from this messed up world. I know that God is always with me, is always watching out for me, and always has plans to prosper me. Everyone’s hope stems from a different place, whether it’s faith, family, friends, or something else.

Well, for me, my hope comes from my faith. I know that everything, including bad things, happen for a reason and are all apart of God’s plan.”

— Hannah Ortega

My uncle is a detective, so he sees some pretty horrible, disgusting things, the kind that “the rest of the world only thinks happens in Hollywood,” as he put it. I asked him how he held on to hope despite the fact that sometimes these “bad things add up and take a toll on [his] mind, happiness, and spirit.” He told me that the two things that give him hope are God and children. Like me, he said that he “believe[s] that one day Jesus will come and take us away from all the darkness. He will take us to a place that has no sadness, evil, or pain.” He then said that the innocence of children gives him and the world light, and that “if somehow they could stay that way their whole life, then the world would be a better place.” He told me that all of the dark things he’s seen instantly clear from his mind when he goes home and sees his smiling children. One of his children is adopted, so he finds comfort and peace knowing that he and my aunt “saved that child from a world of darkness and evil.”

Discovering hope is important because so many people, especially young people, have already given up on this world. Teenagers constantly swim in cynicism, and I’m not totally guilt-free on that matter. Young people, myself included, need to realize that sometimes we need to put aside our eyes that see things as they are and instead use our eyes that see things as they could be. We need to realize that change starts with us.

I was reminded of the importance of hope again last week in AP U.S. history class. Mr. Gore was talking about slavery and how the separation of families caused by slavery was more painful than any physical torture. He said that when people like slaves or work camp captives lose hope and a loved one, that was when they started dying. And it’s true. When hope is lost, all is lost. Hope drives us forward. The thought that things can and will get better drives us forward, so we can never let the light of hope be extinguished.

The thought that things can and will get better drives us forward, so we can never let the light of hope be extinguished.”

— Hannah Ortega

Another way to fight the shadows of the world is to find a purpose and a rock to lean on when things get rough. Find something that makes you happy. Find a person that you love more than anything. Find a dream. Find something to fight for. Find something that makes a difference. And once you discover something, don’t just sit around and wish for it or say, “Maybe tomorrow.” Get up and make it happen. Get up and fight for the light.

Discovering inner hope applies to fighting the darkness within yourself as well as the darkness of the world. The belief that things will get better and that tomorrow is a new day filled with new opportunities helps combat the anxiety, fear, doubt, and sadness that so often swallow people whole. That shining light of hope will expel all shadows inside yourself.

Obviously, it can be hard to find hope and happiness in these times, but with the right point of view and a bit of digging, it can be found. Just last week I saw a story about a man who was saved from a burning car that had crashed at the bottom of a hill near a river. Police and civilians formed a human chain to drag the man up the steep hill, and later the news channel showed the victim video of the people saving his life. My throat closed up as I watched him stare at the screen in grateful astonishment, tears forming in his eyes as he whispered, “Thank you.”

There it was.

There was the light.
A few days ago, I saw a story about a high school engineering class that is working to build a wheelchair for a puppy with a birth defect that impairs her walking.

There it was.

There was the light.

It was a small act, but it still helped restore my faith that there still is good in the world. Besides, the biggest movements for good and for change often start small. The most influential, life-changing people often come from nothing special or nothing at all.

At the end of the day, I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t more horrors and tragedies to come. I’m not going to pretend that the darkness isn’t widespread. I’m not going to pretend that the world isn’t a broken place.

But I’m also not going to pretend that we can’t find a bit of light.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Column: Where’s the light?”

  1. emma on November 18th, 2016 2:34 pm

    Hannah!!!! I love you so much & this column is beautiful!!! I only wish good things for you :)))

    [Reply]

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Column: Where’s the light?