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Turn On The Light

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By: Clare Bennett

Staying positive and spreading contagious smiles can be relatively easy and straightforward when the
days are full of sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies, but when we are bombarded with tragedy after
tragedy, how can we find light in all that darkness?

Recent controversy surrounding sexual assault allegations at the University of Virginia broke my heart as
I thought of all victims and how damaging reckless journalism can be. Similarly close to home, the
Gemmell family suffered horrible losses due to the plane crash in Gaithersburg, Maryland on Monday.
Protests continue to erupt all over the country and in Washington, D.C. as Americans demand justice in
the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Trayvon Martin. So, where do we turn to for a
reinvigorated sense of hope when so much pain is weighing on our hearts and the hearts of our fellow

Many tend to struggle with the notion that the universe unfolds as it should, but I stand by it and believe
we have a responsibility to leave the world a better place than the way we found it. When my friend
Chris Kearns died in a car accident during our junior year of high school, I distinctly remember his
stepfather urging all those at the funeral to not let Chris’ death be in vain, to learn from the painful loss
of our dear friend and honor him in the decisions we made and the way we lived. We can apply the
same notion — of refusing to let hurts or losses occur without giving rise to something good — across all
situations, and I hope that we all find and share positivity with revived strength and faith in each other.

I expressed the dispirited feelings I’ve had lately to a wise friend, and he explained that his faith in
humanity had actually improved amid all the chaotic news lately because so many people, who would
not be directly affected by these issues, have spoken up and taken a stance. As Martin Luther King Jr.
said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

The thought then struck me that the ability to stay positive means so much more when it is actually
tested. The resolve to stand by what is good and just and loving when bad and injustice and hate
threaten it is what counts. Let us all see opportunities in negativity and be examples of Make DC Smile’s
message, especially when times are tough.

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