Robin Williams, World Tragedies, and ‘The Grieving Contest’

Robin Williams died yesterday.

After hearing the news, I immediately thought, ‘That can’t be true! He’s still too young. He’s so talented.”

When I confirmed it, I instantly felt sick to my stomach.

I, and many others, will never know him personally, but he impacted many lives with joy and laughter, and for that we are grateful.

The Birdcage, Aladdin, Mork and Mindy, and Mrs. Doubtfire were pieces of my childhood and never fail to brighten my day and make me laugh. Dead Poet Society is one of my favorite movies and greatly impacted me in my young adult life and as a writer.

While I noticed an outpouring of love and a celebration of Mr. Williams’ life from people online, I also came across many angered posts saying, and I quote, “Oh, I guess everyone forgot about Gaza and Israel because some white guy died.” and “People believing Robin Williams’ death is more important than dying kids in Palestine…smh.”

If people were specifically saying, “Robin Williams dying is more important than any other world problems,” then, yes, I think that would be an issue. But, people don’t think that way. The sheer “trending” magnitude of people talking about his death can be attributed to the fact that he was beloved and had many fans.

In situations where one famous person dies, there usually are more important things going on in the world that need attention, which end up going by the wayside.

Yes, it is not right that people aren’t more observant and end up focusing on the wrong things.

Yes, it sucks even more that someone like Justin Bieber has 54 million people reading every inane thought that come out of his head, yet only 5 million see the news coming out of the White House Twitter account each day.

Yes, people need perspective and tend to live in their own little bubble.

These are all true and unfortunate problems we have in society today.

But, shaming someone because they dare make one tweet or blog post about their sadness over the passing of Robin Williams, a man who did nothing but bring joy and laughter to the lives of millions, isn’t a way to enact change.

Hate begets more hate.

If someone liked Robin Williams, then they are entitled to feel sad and say whatever they like about it. Just like you are allowed to feel sad at the end of school or your job, at the passing of a beloved grandparent or professor, at the closing of your favorite bookstore, or at violence in your neighborhood. It may seem unimportant to someone else, but it means something to you.

Different things impact people in different ways. Just because something doesn’t matter to you doesn’t mean it didn’t impact someone else.

I don’t understand the people in this world who don’t like something and then feel the need to spread their anger and dislike.

People are entitled to their own opinions, ideas, and perspectives.

Respect that.

You can disagree with someone, but at least respect that they have the freedom to state their piece.

Also, one tweet isn’t going to impact the world.

If I tweeted about Israel and Gaza it wouldn’t do a thing to evoke change. Granted, I have already tweeted a great deal about the situation, but have my tweets made a difference?

No.

Does anyone care what I have to say?

No.

Did the people in the Middle East sit down and say, ‘Oh, this girl is talking about us, we should stop fighting!”

No.

I tweeted about it to raise awareness because some in my generation, and many younger than I, tend to not care or pay attention to important things like what’s going on in the world around them.

The world is full of death, poverty, disease, war, violence, racism, sexism, conflict, terrorism, incompetent leaders, rape, mental illness, murder, and suicide.

You cannot measure one person’s anguish to another’s like you can with tomatoes and bananas on a scale at the market. One person’s sadness is not greater than any other person. If you want to sit counting apples and oranges, then fine, but I’d rather have compassion for all human life, equally.

It’s sick the way people turn grief and problems into a contest nowadays.

Why do people feel the need to tear one thing down in order to build up something else?

No person is better than another. No soul is worth more than another. We are all human beings deserving of love and respect.

Lots of bad things happen in the world, so if a little piece of sunshine and laughter like Robin Williams goes away among the darkness, yes, we will all feel sad and mourn. And we will celebrate the life of a person who impacted and brightened the lives of so many others.

Then, when the news breaks tomorrow, the world will forget the tragedy of today.

And we will mourn new losses. And we will celebrate new triumphs.

Technology has made news sharing faster than the blink of an eye. At times, the world is onto the next story before the first has barely begun.

What about Ukraine? What about the Middle East? What about the downed Malaysian airlines flight? What about the missing Nigerian girls? What about Ferguson? What about Ebola in Africa?

Again and again. Over and over. The world keeps turning and forgets the news of yesterday.

All we can really do, is spread love, not hate.

Continue to raise awareness and remind others of past issues.

Learn from mistakes, grow, and move forward.

Grieve and celebrate.

Live and ‘Seize The Day.’