Tag Archives: United States of America

A Brief Message To Afghan Refugees Arriving In America (And My Fellow Americans)

There are some news stories that I go out of my way to avoid. It’s not that I actively ignore them. I just prefer not to discuss them because I either have nothing of value to offer or they’re just way outside my expertise. In some instances, the story itself is just too tragic and depressing. Talking about it only belabors how miserable things are and how bad they’re bound to get.

That’s why I haven’t said anything about the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. Believe me, I have opinions about it. I’m reluctant to link to articles about it because every aspect of this story is just too awful for words.

We all know the basics. After nearly 20 years of occupation, the United States is leaving Afghanistan and the Taliban has already taken over. Basically, the country is back to where it was 20 years ago, ruled by a collection of extreme religious zealots who seek to govern and oppress like 7th century warlords.

It’s an objectively terrible situation. There’s no other way to describe it.

However, there is one part of this horrific story that is worth highlighting and it’s actually somewhat uplifting. It has to do with refugees, a subject I know sparks some extreme opinions among certain segments of America.

Now, this issue hits a little closer to home for me, personally. I grew up in a pretty diverse community. Many of my neighbors were either first or second generation immigrants from various parts of the world.

Just a block from my house was a neighborhood full of immigrants from Korea. Not far from that was a neighborhood with a sizable Nigerian population. A few miles away, there was a neighborhood full of Indian and Middle Eastern immigrants. There were also a few stores that catered specifically to Spanish speaking people.

That was my normal. Every time I went to a mall or crowded area, I was bound to hear at least two different languages. It also showed in my school. I’ve always been around a large mix of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures. In fact, whenever I traveled to areas that were predominately one race or ethnic group, it felt weird.

Growing up, I just came to associate this with America being a melting pot. This was not a country defined by one particulate race or ethnic group. Yes, many of the Founding Fathers were old rich white guys, but the nation they set up accommodated many people from many different nations. To me, that wasn’t just a distinct trait. It was a defining characteristic.

That’s why when I heard stories about refugees from Afghanistan arriving in America after such an arduous trip, I found it oddly uplifting. In fact, it was the first uplifting story I’d heard from this geopolitical tragedy.

It helped that some of them arrived in areas that I was familiar with. Very recently, hundreds of refugees arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC. That’s an airport I actually know pretty well, having flown out of there numerous times on trips and transfers. Some of the stories these people have told is nothing short of harrowing.

Here is a story of just one such arrival.

WJLA: ‘I feel relieved’: 200 more Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles Airport after Kabul bombing

Roughly 200 Afghan refugees arrived at Dulles International Airport on Thursday afternoon.

Their arrival came hours after deadly suicide bombings outside the Kabul Airport. Thirteen U.S. were killed in the blast. Afghan officials told The Associated Press that more than 140 Afghans were wounded.

An organization, known as Team Hope, assisted them. According to United Airlines, United has operated three international missions, with the fourth departing shortly, in total carrying nearly 1,500 U.S. citizens and Afghan evacuees to the U.S. over the last four days.

United says they are working with “a number of non-profit and corporate partners to ensure our passengers are well-cared for both during and after their flights land.”

In addition to this story, I also found this photo on Reddit of a family from Afghanistan arriving at that same airport. Seeing them arrive, flashing peace signs after coming from an actual war zone, was incredibly uplifting. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to look up these stories and see images of these people as they arrive from one of the worst situations imaginable.

What makes this image more personal is that I’ve actually walked that exact same area of Dulles. If I went there now, I could find it with ease. Knowing what these people went through and how hard they worked to come here gives me a small sliver of hope for this country and our future.

In that spirit, I’d like to offer a brief message to these incoming refugees, as well as my fellow Americans. There’s a good chance one of them will end up living in a neighborhood not far from mine. I hope that day comes. I will gladly welcome them with donuts and coffee. Even if I never meet them, I’d like to offer this sentiment.

Welcome to America.

Thank you for fighting so hard to make it here, leaving behind everything you knew in order to start a new life. I sincerely hope that the lives you build here, both for yourselves and your children, are better than anything you dreamed of.

I truly cannot imagine what you went through. I’ve never been to a war zone. Very few Americans have. I can only imagine the horrors you’ve seen and the hardship you’ve lived. I won’t pretend to understand. All I can do is help you and your family look forward.

I won’t claim that America is a perfect nation. We certainly have our flaws. Most Americans are wonderful, loving people. However, we do have an angry, vocal minority who will try to make you feel unwelcome.

Do not listen to them.

Do not let their hate keep you from realizing the American dream.

Take comfort in the knowledge that these voices are only loud because they are so few. Take even greater comfort in the knowledge that the number of Americans who will stand by your side will vastly outnumber those who would do otherwise. We can be a strange, erratic people, but our hearts are usually in the right place. Give us a chance and we’ll help you become proud Americans, like our ancestors before us. It’s because of what you’ve overcome that you embody the best of what America can be. Let that be your strength as you build new lives in this new land.

Having said that, I also have a far shorter message for my fellow Americans. I know we are a very diverse and divided people. There are many out there who, because of their politics and their prejudices, will not welcome any refugees from any country that doesn’t remotely resemble them. To you, I just have one thing to say.

Don’t be assholes. Every nation has assholes, but these people have been through enough. Give them a chance. Let them prove that they can be the kind of Americans that will truly make this country as great as we all want it to be.

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Happy Memorial Day 2021!

Happy Memorial Day 2021 USA Quotes Wishes Poems Images Whatsapp Status DP  To Honor Armed Forces

It’s Memorial Day once more. This year promises to be very different from last year, but for the best possible reasons. The world just went through a serious struggle that cost thousands of people their lives and left thousands more reeling. Sadly, that’s something veterans know all too well.

As someone who has veterans in his family, including some who actively served in real conflicts, I can attest to the heart and strength of those who serve. It takes a special kind of soul and a special kind of patriotism to make that effort. Conflicts come and go. Times change and politics evolve. However, it is usually the soldiers and their families who bear the greatest burden.

To all those who have served in the United States military and the families of those who paid the ultimate price for their sacrifice, I sincerely thank you. I hope you do something special to celebrate your service and your sacrifices today.

To those who have not served, please consider donating to a veteran’s charity. Here is a list of notable organizations from Military.com.

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Was Socrates Right About Democracy?

Socrates - HISTORY

I am a proud American. I love my country, the ideals it espouses, and the vision it offers for freedom loving people. I consider myself lucky to have been born in the United States. I understand that being an American comes with many benefits that millions of others cannot enjoy. For that, I am eternally grateful.

However, I do not deny that this country I love has flaws. I am a patriot, but I do not overlook or underscore some of the objectively terrible things the United States has done in its brief history. We shouldn’t ignore those flaws. Loving your country doesn’t mean always believing it’s right, good, and just. I know that’s not a popular sentiment among certain Americans, but that’s exactly why I value it.

That same misguided sentiment also has a significant impact on democracy, one of America’s highest ideals. Regardless of your political leanings, that’s the one tradition that America holds more dear. We embrace democracy and empower the people to pick their leaders. Considering how leaders have traditionally come to power throughout history, it’s an admirable institution.

At the same time, it’s not without its flaws. Democracy, in principle, is great. It empowers the people. It allows the people to set the standards by which a ruler is put into power. Given how often power has been abused by rulers, that’s critical for a stable, functional society.

Despite that strength, it’s still worth asking an important question.

What are the greatest flaws of democracy?

I know just asking that will put me at odds with many of my fellow Americans. Thankfully, I’m not the first one to ask that question. In fact, this is a question that has been contemplated since before America was ever a country.

Democracy itself is not an exclusively American invention. Most educated people know that it existed in various forms throughout history, most notably in Ancient Athens. However, even back then, there were some who had major criticisms of democracy, both in principle and in practice. One of the most vocal critics was the Father of Philosophy himself, Socrates.

Now, I’m not a philosophy buff. I couldn’t begin to properly break down all the concepts, principles, and contributions that Socrates made to philosophy and Western Civilization in general. So, I won’t bother trying. Instead, I’ll just focus on what he said about democracy and why he viewed it so unfavorably.

To that end, this video form the YouTube channel, The School of Life, does a nice rundown of Socrates’ biggest criticisms of democracy. Watch it and follow his ideas. You may or may not agree with them, but they’re still worth contemplating.

Again, this is just a brief summary. The nuts and bolts of Socrates’ ideas and principles are far greater in terms of breadth and concept. With respect to democracy, though, his criticisms are fairly concise.

Democracy, namely the kind in which too many uneducated people have a vote, tends to lead towards demagoguery. Instead of diligent, qualified, well-meaning leaders, people will simply elect those who are capable of winning people over with promises and rhetoric. It doesn’t matter if they’re aristocrats or con-men. They just need to sway 51 percent of the population into giving them the power they seek.

I hope I don’t need to cite an example of this happening in the real world. I also hope I don’t need to name names of those who have carried themselves like demagogues in the American political landscape. In fact, there has been a distressing trend of American’s actively seeking to put their favorite demagogues for positions of power.

These are not skilled ship captains or trained doctors, like what Socrates described in his video. These are people who are just capable of persuading a large mass of people that they should wield power. They didn’t train to wield power like a doctor trains to treat illness. They just say they’re capable and it’s up to the people to believe them.

It’s not an unreasonable criticism. Does that mean I agree with it completely? No, I do not.

Does that mean I think there’s real merit to these criticism? Yes, I absolutely do and I think there are ways to address them.

Socrates’ issue wasn’t just with democracy in principle. He was more concerned about uneducated people who don’t appreciate or care for wisdom making critical decisions, such as who should lead a country. Another great philosopher, George Carlin, put it even better.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

I think this sentiment is more relevant now, especially after last year’s Presidential Election and the horrors of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. Me and my fellow Americans have never been more divided. As a proud American, this worries me a great deal.

I still love my country. I want it to be better. I want it to live up to its greatest ideals. However, I don’t think it can do so without taking the criticisms of someone like Socrates seriously.

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Profiles Of The American Worker: Bob Belcher And Hank Hill

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a take on the American worker and all their American glory. I highlight the concepts and ideals surrounding these workers by citing two well-known animated representations in Hank Hill from “King of the Hill” and Bob Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers.” If you’re fans of these shows and appreciate the struggles of the American worker, I think you’ll appreciate this. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, noble masculinity, political correctness, politics, YouTube

Happy President’s Day America! (Let’s Try To Appreciate That)

Hello, my fellow Americans.

As many of you know, it’s President’s Day. In most years, that’s just a day off from school or work, as well as a formal acknowledgement of America’s history. It’s our indirect way of appreciating the ideals of American democracy and the people who made it possible.

However, this isn’t most years. Hell, last year wasn’t most years and not just because of a historic pandemic. The events of January 6 at the Capitol didn’t help much, either.

Many others have already said it, but it still holds true. America is very divided. That’s not an opinion. It’s backed up by real numbers. Half of Americans hate each other, based on their political ideology. There’s no respectful disagreements. There’s just a growing us-versus-them mentality and it’s incredibly toxic.

Since a new president was sworn in last month, there have been a lot of talk about unity and healing. That talk hasn’t resulted in much, in the grand scheme of things. Many Americans still hate each other. They also still refuse to accept that a President they didn’t like or vote for won the election.

How do we come back from that?

How do we heal from that?

How do we ever get to a point where we can just get along again?

I honestly don’t know. I wish I did. I really do. As a proud American who loves his country as much as any patriotic American, I want to see us do better. I want to see us transcend our flaws, of which there are many, and become more akin to the vision that our founders set out to create.

I don’t expect it to start today. I don’t expect it to start tomorrow, either. However, I believe in making the effort.

Maybe today is a day when we can all start trying. Even if you didn’t vote for the current President, don’t let that stop you from making America the best it can possibly be. Look forward to the future and not to the past. See your fellow Americans as fellow Americans and not an insurgent army.

I know that’s asking a lot. I also understand there are some people who truly cannot be reached. They will not be satisfied until America, as we know it, is destroyed and rebuilt in their own perverse image. Those people are an extreme minority, but they often talk the loudest and resort to violence most readily.

Let’s not let them derail the vision for a better America.

Let’s not let them keep us divided.

We’re Americans. We are lucky beyond measure to be born in this great land. In our country, a President is not a King, but they are those tasked with carrying America forward. They’ll continue to do their part. That’s why we elected them. Now, on this President’s Day, let’s do ours.

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Post-Election Day PSA: Do NOT Trust Or Expect Politicians To Solve Your Problems

It’s over, my fellow Americans.

It’s finally over.

Election Day has come and gone. I won’t get into the drama leading up to it or the drama that’s still unfolding, as I write this. I just want to take a step back, catch my breath, and offer some perspective to those who will hear it.

I agree this was rough. I think most others will agree with me when I say this was the most chaotic, divisive, and downright stressful election in recent memory. I’ve spoken to relatives who voted for Kennedy in 1960. They agree that this year was, by far, the worst in terms of stakes, rhetoric, and tone.

That’s saying a lot, by the way.

However you feel about the candidates or who you voted for, I genuinely hope this election has been revealing, to a certain extent. It’s tempting to be cynical about it. I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling that way. At the same time, we should also take stock as to why this election was so harrowing, for lack of a better word.

The world is such a messed-up place right now. We’ve got wars, economic collapse, and a once-in-a-century pandemic has that killed over a million people in the span of nine months. Things are bad right now, more so than they’ve been at any point in my lifetime.

Most don’t question that, unless they’re rich and well-connected.

What I do question, however, is why people trust or even expect politicians to help solve these problems.

That’s a notion that, in my opinion, fuels stressful elections like this. An election is supposed to be a job interview for a position for a public-serving official. It’s not supposed to be some expensive spectacle in which we all get behind the candidate who says the right things to just enough people in a handful of swing states.

That’s not democracy.

That’s a bad reality TV show.

Now, it’s tempting to just blame the politicians and that’s understandable. Politicians are easy targets for mockery and they’ve no one to blame but themselves for that. We should criticize them. They are, after all, in positions of power and public trust. They should be held to a higher standard.

That standard, however, should not involve trusting them to fix everything that ails us, from the economy to who pays a fine for when a female nipple is shown during a halftime show. That’s not just asking too much of one person. It’s asinine.

It’s also self-defeating. Politicians make lots of promises and break plenty of them, but let’s not lay the blame entirely on their honesty or lack thereof. They’re only human. Even the most selfless, hard-working politician can only do so much to deliver on every promise. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or enough personnel to get it done.

That’s not even accounting for the times when politicians make objectively impossible promises. Certain policy pitches may sound like great slogans or taglines, but logistically speaking, they just cannot be done in the real world. It’s not that the sincerity isn’t there. There just isn’t enough people or resources.

Therein lies the source of the great cycle of toxic politics. It goes something like this.

Politician A makes a bold promise. People rally behind them. Politician A get elected.

Politician A cannot deliver on those promises. People turn against them.

Politician B comes along, offering new or better promises. People rally behind them. Politician B get elected.

Again, Politician B can’t deliver on all those promises. People turn against them.

Politician C comes along to make another set of promises and the cycle continues.

It goes beyond party affiliation, political systems, or shifts in power. It’s an unavoidable flaw in a democratic system. An election, by default, isn’t going to elect someone with the greatest governing skill. It can only elect someone with the skills to convince enough people that they can govern.

I won’t say it’s a terrible system. Compared to the alternatives, it’s probably the best we can manage right now in our current environment. However, it is not a system in which any politician, no matter how successful, can solve the problems we want them to solve. Even when the system is working at its best, it’s still limited.

That’s not to say politicians can’t be part of a solution. They definitely can be. A politician can be a facilitator of sorts, either by leadership or by policy. The specifics, though, are best left to people with the right drive, incentives, and know-how.

Whether it involves combating climate change, reducing poverty, or promoting public health, the bulk of the responsibility will still fall on the general public. We, as a people, have to collectively work on these issues together. That’s how any social species within a functional society adapts, grows, and prospers.

The role of government and politicians is always changing. The extent or details of that role depends heavily on the issue at hand. The Presidents we elect, as well as the various legislators and judges at all levels, will always have some impact on how we further our interests. The key is balancing that impact with actual, tangible efforts on our part.

The next four years are sure to be eventful. Hopefully, they’re eventful for all the right reasons. Whatever happens, use this past election as a teachable moment.

Politicians come and go.

Ambitious people will keep making bold promises and breaking them, either on purpose or through no fault of their own. At the end of the day, it all comes back to us. We have a part to play in making our world and our lives better. Let’s focus on doing ours before we trust anyone else to do it for us.

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Filed under Current Events, human nature, media issues, political correctness, politics

The Day Before Veterans Day: A Story And A Request

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. As I’ve done before in previous years, I go out of my way to acknowledge the sacrifice and service those who have served in the military. It’s one of the few issues that transcends ideology, politics, and debate. Those who have served deserve our utmost admiration and respect.

There’s a personal element for me, as well. I have many close family members who have served in the United States Military. I have grandparents who served in World War II. I have an uncle who served in Vietnam. They know what it means to serve their country in times of war and peace.

I know it is often used as a platitude by politicians and pundits, supporting the troops. That doesn’t make it any less deserving of such support. I certainly offer my thanks and my respect to our veterans, especially on days like Veterans Day. I also encourage others to do so and to support various veterans charities.

In the past, I’ve donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. I strongly encourage others to do the same, donating to this or other veteran-supporting charities. On top of that, I’d like to share a quick story that was told to me a few years back by one of my uncles.

Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t reveal my uncle’s name or which branch he served. I’ll just state that he has been very involved in supporting veterans since he got out of the service many years ago. He’s actively involved with churches and organizations. He’s the kind of man who will go above and beyond for a fellow veteran.

This particular story he shared took place at a local church. For years, a group of World War II veterans would meet there around a certain date. They’d catch up, drink, and laugh in all the ways you’d expect of old friends. It was a tradition they all cherished.

However, in recent years, that group’s numbers have been dwindling. Even though millions served in World War II, there are only an estimated 300,000 left alive. That may sound like a lot, but in a small group like this, they noticed when many of their friends began dying. It got to a point where the group was small, so much so that there was little to catch up on.

This is where my uncle comes in. At one particular gathering at a church, he met up with this old guy wearing the distinct World War II veteran attire most recognize. He was sitting alone and not in the best shape, health-wise. He didn’t look sad, but you could tell he was among the last of the friends he served with.

My uncle, being the wonderful man he is, sat down and talked to the man. They got along well. In doing so, my uncle found out that this old man was the last surviving member of his platoon. They’d been close for many years, but now he was the last one. Given his age, it wouldn’t be long before his entire platoon joined the many others who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It struck my uncle because he knew that, once this man passed, too many of his stories would pass with him. That just couldn’t stand. My uncle sat with that man and just listened to him reminisce. I don’t know how long they chatted, but my uncle made it a point to hear his story, knowing those who could tell them were dwindling fast.

It’s a special kind of way to honor a veteran. You can help them in many ways, but I like to think just listening to them and their story goes a long way. War and combat has consumed entire generations. They leave lasting marks, including many scars.

That’s why it’s important to remember and honor them. There are memories worth preserving, full of lessons worth learning. Times may change. Warfare often changes with it. The one constant is the strength it takes to fight, serve, and sacrifice.

I hope this story from my uncle gets that point across. I also hope it inspires others to help and honor our veterans in their own special way.

Thank you and to all those who are serving now or have served, I hope you feel the love and support you deserve on Veterans Day this year.

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Filed under Current Events, real stories, Uplifting Stories

A Message To America After Election 2020

It’s over, America. We did it. The election of 2020 has concluded. We now have a winner and, come January 20, 2021, there will be a new occupant of the White House. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this. It is, after all, a cornerstone of American democracy.

We, the people, elect our leaders. We don’t always like who wins, but it’s still on us, as a people, to make that decision. I know that sounds cheesy, given these cynical times, but it’s still worth saying.

With those platitudes out of the way, I have another important message I’d like to share with my fellow Americans. It’s simple, succinct, and apolitical. It’s simply this.

Regardless of how you voted, let’s all make an effort to be kinder to one another.

It’s not a tall request. It’s not something that requires great sacrifice or rigor. It’s just a simple act that anyone can do, regardless of their affiliations or ideology.

It shouldn’t seem so daunting, but these past few years have made it difficult to grasp. I’m on the internet every day. I see plenty of instances of horrendous, unbridled hatred. It’s on social media, message boards, Reddit, and even text messages. I won’t offer examples because it’s just that disgusting.

It’s not always political, but for these past few years, politics has been a catalyst for such hatred. It’s no longer enough to simply disagree with someone on a particular issue. The default has become utter and complete hatred of anyone who disagrees with you.

Whether it’s on abortion, LGBTQ rights, party affiliation, or sexy characters in video games, there’s no room for understanding and nuance anymore. Either someone agrees with you or you hate them in the utmost.

That is not healthy.

That is not conducive to a functional society.

Moreover, that is not in keeping with the American spirit.

America was not founded on hatred. No society founded on hatred could ever become so strong and dominant. It takes people living, loving, and cooperating with one another, regardless of differences, to build what America has built.

Have we made mistakes? Absolutely, we have. Every country has, some more so than others.

We’re human. We have flaws. Hatred is one of our most egregious flaws, but it need not be our most defining.

So, with that made, I sincerely hope that my fellow Americans will use this recent election as a turning point. We don’t need to “own” our opponents to vindicate ourselves. We don’t need to hate each other to prove ourselves right. We just need to be kind and make the most of the lives we live, as Americans and as fellow humans.

To that end, I’ll end this message with one of my favorite quotes by John F. Kennedy.

“We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or make it the last.”

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Happy Election Day! Now Vote!

It’s Election Day here in the United States of America. I don’t know how many people have been following the news for the past four years, but even if you’ve somehow avoided it, I hope one thing is still abundantly clear.

This election is a big fucking deal.

Regardless of which party you’re affiliated with or which candidate you support, this is the day where the rubber meets the road for democracy. This is where citizens exercise the power granted to them by the constitution.

As such, I encourage everyone to use it.

I’ve got no larger point to make today. I’ve got no sexy twist to put on it or larger narrative to explore. I’m just going to say what so many others have been saying for months now.

Go out and vote!

Get out there early. Bring water, snacks, and a lawn chair if you must. Stand in line as long as necessary. Just make sure you vote.

This is America. We value democratic principles. Those principles don’t work if people don’t vote. So please, my fellow Americans. I’ll say it again.

Go out and vote!

America will be better because of it. Thank you.

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Never Forget: A Tribute To The Victims Of 9/11 (And The Heroes It Inspired)

neverforget

Today is a solemn day, but one we should never forget. I don’t think I need to tell anyone over the age of 25 why September 11th, 2001 is a day we’ll never forget. Even for those born after, it affects them. Nearly two decades later, it continues to affect us all. That’s why we shouldn’t forget. We need to remember because we need to learn from it.

There’s a lot I can say about the issues surrounding September 11th, 2001. I could spend the next year, writing an article every day about the lives lost and the families shattered by that terrible incident. It still wouldn’t be enough. It still wouldn’t heal the scars.

With that in mind, I won’t lament over what and who we lost on that day. Instead, I’ll take the advice of the late Fred Rogers, a man whose capacity for love and compassion is legendary.

In the spirit of those wise, caring words, I think the best thing we can do to honor the victims and learn from the trauma we all experienced that fateful day is to acknowledge the heroes. You don’t have to look far to find stories of heroism on day like September 11th. On a day like this, though, those stories should carry even greater weight.

In the end, the losses are always going to hurt. However, it’s important to remember that even in the face of atrocity, good people find a way to be good. Amazing people find a way to be heroes. That, more than anything, is worth remembering.

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