You can show me beheading videos and tell me the world is going to hell.
You can tell me about sex scandals and Wall Street greed and random acts of senseless violence, and throw up your hands.
I know. There’s a lot of bad out there.
But, just for a moment, please look at this other thing.
Because it’s a miracle.
In 2015, we can save people’s lives. You and me. With a keyboard.
Famous internet meme “Success Kid” was just 11 months old when his mother snapped that perfect photo of him—an image now associated with wins of all shapes, sizes and colors.
Success Kid is actually Sammy Griner. He’s 8 now.
And his dad is probably going to die from failing kidneys unless he finds a compatible kidney donor and the Jacksonville, Fla.-based family can raise enough money to pay for the expensive treatment after the surgery.
At first, Sammy’s mother Laney didn’t want to use her son as a means of raising money for Justin Griner’s cause. She wanted the focus to be on Justin. But then she considered the power of the internet, and the reach that one random photo of her son had already achieved.
Maybe it could help, she thought.
First, The Daily Dot picked up the story. Then BuzzFeed, where I saw it. The Griners launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $75,000 goal. (The drugs needed to make a body and a strange kidney work together are very expensive.)
When I first read about it 24 hours ago, the family had raised close to $20,000 of their $75,000 goal.
By the time I went to bed last night, they had nearly $70,000. Now, they have more than $83,000. And the number is climbing.
Every minute or two, someone new is offering $5 or $10 or $20 or $100.
Another stranger who wants that 8-year-old boy to keep his father for as long as possible.
It’s because people—no matter how many bad things we do and how selfish we behave—are inherently good.
The Eve of Destruction
I hear a lot of people complaining about modern times.
It’s because we used to know all of our neighbors and hang out together on front porches. There was a greater sense of community.
It’s because when you saw groups of friends out in public together they were always talking and laughing and playing, and now we see people with their eyes glued to their phones Snapchatting or tweeting or updating Facebook.
It’s because we get annoyed with all the vanity and the internet bullying and the way web stories about Kim Kardashian get infinitely more people reading them than the top story in The New York Times.
I sometimes long for the good ol’ days, too. It’s nostalgia and we all have bouts with it and wish we could go back in time in Uncle Rico’s time machine.
It’s why so many of us go through mid-life crises. Our minds want desperately to experience the good we remember from our past, or to have the chance to right some wrongs, or to take advantage of missed opportunities.
But there’s no such thing as time travel. There’s only right now.
There’s too much sex and violence on TV!
Music ain’t what it used to be!
All the kids are doing drugs and having sex!
EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE, and it’s because of progress and technology! Because everyone wants everything bigger, better, faster and stronger even though everything was already fine just as it was!
I’d like to offer an alternative theory.
As With Every Single Thing in Life, Change Brings Some Bad—But a Lot of Good, Too
In almost every instance in life, when we make a decision or major change, we are sacrificing some good thing in exchange for some other, newer good thing that hopefully we feel was worth it in the end.
When we make a change, something usually gets worse.
Everything is a trade-off.
Everyone has these phones now. So we’re distracted. We’re not present with our friends and family sometimes because we’re addicted to responding to texts and answering email and liking something in our newsfeeds.
And, sure. That made life a little worse.
But in return, we got the ability to capture photos and video of moments with those same friends and family. Of dirty cops shooting unarmed civilians and bringing them to justice. Of allowing people all over the globe to communicate—and even see one another!—in real time.
Maybe you’re not a sucker for a good father-son story like me.
It’s probably because I’m emotionally hardwired to be moved by them since I didn’t see my father very much growing up, and since I’m now living out a new father-son story with my little boy, not all that much younger than Sammy Griner.
Yesterday, I witnessed one of the world’s greatest examples of just how good and beautiful life really is.
We can lament the death of old-school journalism. Of community. Of romantic notions of yesteryear.
But in 2015, we can raise $80,000 in a day to save a man’s life because we fell in love with a photo of his son.
And just maybe, that dad gets many more years because of it.
Just maybe, a wife and mother is rewarded for the love she chooses each day.
Just maybe, Success Kid gets more time with his father.
Don’t tell me the world has gone to hell.
Don’t tell me life isn’t beautiful.
Don’t tell me that’s impossible.
Don’t tell me it’s pointless to feel hope.
Don’t tell me there are no such things as miracles.
Because I just saw one.