Bad news haunts the headlines.
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star
A rapist on the loose in the Northland. Five people shot at a teen party in Kansas City. A 4-year-old boy accidentally shot in the head at his Wichita home. Thats just this week.
The sadness is suffocating. These are just a few of the stories in the paper, on our feeds and timelines and TVs. Sometimes its hard to believe in good when were constantly reminded of the darkness.
But then you see something like Grumpy Cat, the kitty who is stealing the show at South by Southwest Interactive Festival this year. People lined up just to meet her and snap pictures in Austin over the weekend. The 11-month-old kitty has been an Internet sensation since September. Her site has 1.5 million visitors a month. But why?
She makes us smile. And happiness is something were thirsty for.
Its why seemingly common moments, like a napping cat, often go viral. Last week, an image of Charles Ziegler, a North Carolina cop, caused a Web frenzy. He wasnt naked. He wasnt doing anything wild. It was raining. He saw a mom pushing her child in a stroller. He offered them a ride. Someone impressed with his random act of kindness took a picture and posted it to Twitter, and it made the rounds on Facebook, too. Before long, the story was on Today.com.
Its no different from last months big feel-good story on the Country Club Plaza. Sarah Darling gave spare change to Billy Ray Harris and accidentally dropped her engagement ring in his can. The next day she found him on the Plaza and he returned her ring. The story made national news. Darling and her husband set up a fundraiser to help Harris. Hes an Internet hero, and people have donated to the tune of $180,000 and counting.
Harris told KCTV-5 he likes the attention but doesnt feel he deserves it for simply doing the right thing.
What I actually feel like is what has the world come to when a person who returns something that doesnt belong to him and all this happens?
Well, the world is sad, Billy Ray. Were living in times where 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for speaking out about girls getting an education in Pakistan. The Sandy Hook shooter was in competition with the Norway massacre. And in Kansas City, murders and violence are becoming weekly occurrences. In January, we saw seven murders in three days.
With that kind of reality, even the most fortunate of us can struggle with grace and our own humanity. So to see someone like Billy Ray, homeless and forgotten, filled with so much good? We crave that light. Maybe one day well live in a world where random acts of kindness are so common theres no need for news reporters to show up. I hope for that.
But for now, in our media-driven lifestyle, the blues are something we escape from.