The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

In the face of chaos and hardship

Moving forward with love and compassion

<p>Avery's column runs biweekly Wednesday. She can be reached at</p>

Avery's column runs biweekly Wednesday. She can be reached at

The University is going through a trying time — one that leaves us searching. Searching for solace, for meaning, for happiness, perhaps even for humor. Searching for the light, which we are certain is behind this gray cloud because we remember seeing it once — it reared its beautiful, warm head and now it is gone. We wait solemnly for its return.

Problems are rampant right now — big and small, near and far. On my desk I see a never-ending to do list and piles of books yet to be read. Outside of my apartment walls there is an atmosphere of shared confusion and hurt. Beyond Charlottesville there is pain still.

Our University is at a point of crisis. While still reeling from the disappearance and death of Hannah, we were faced with having to say goodbye to Conor. The Rolling Stone article thrust the University under national scrutiny, leading to anger, sadness and confusion. When we had to say goodbye to Peter as well, the emotional turmoil seemed to reach a maximum.

So what can we do in the face of all this madness and chaos? How can we focus on writing that paper when a friend has just given up on life because it got to be too much? How do we avoid getting sucked into this pessimistic vortex where sequences of thought all seem to end with, “But what does it matter anyway?”

As the chaos swarms around us and we find ourselves lost amidst the confusion and crisis, the only way we can emerge from the gray is to love — unequivocally and irrevocably.

The power of love is boundless. Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed. So choose to love, no matter how difficult it may seem in the face of turmoil. Loving in the midst of these trying times is hard – at times, it may even seem impossible. But it is not impossible.

Start small. Never, ever stop seeing beauty in the common things. I saw a friend the other day and when I asked him how he was all he said was, “Look at the sky. Isn’t it amazing?” That day I had forgotten to appreciate the beauty in the passing clouds and I had forgotten, when walking across the Lawn, to appreciate the blades of grass and the bark on the trees.

So when you are confused about where to go from here, look no further than within. Love everything and every one you come across. Perform an act of kindness, because it is contagious. Show more compassion than usual. Do a good deed without concern for the profit margin. Once we truly love we will meet cruelty with compassion, hatred with kindness, and anger with sympathy.

It won’t be easy. It may seem as if new storms brew just as the previous ones clear. There will be bad days.

Just remember that your contributions are not insignificant. The onus is on each individual to combat this chaos, even if it feels like our acts are futile.

Next time you question the importance of a small act, whether it be a paper or joining friends for dinner, know that life is shaped by a series of numberless acts that create small ripples which combine to form a current. Everything you do shapes the person you become.

When the triviality of everything is becoming far too apparent in the wake of tragedy, remember that your current in this world is everlasting and felt by many. Contribute a verse to the course of history that is uncontestable and powerful.

To quote Whitman: “That you are here — that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Avery’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at